Life in a box

Tonight I've spent 3 hours transferring my life from one box to another faster, more redundant one. I'm of course talking about computers (What else would I talk about, right?), and the cynical among you will cry, "That's not your life, that's a machine". Which is true, but it is certainly a machine that holds a better record of my life than my brain does.

And a gigantic record it is. In fact the prefix "giga" means giant, and I moved about 200 gigabytes tonight. That's the equivalent of about two library floors full of academic journals, or 200 Encyclopedia Britannicas. My stuff is so big because of all of the audio and photo files that I end up collecting over the years. A single photoshoot can take up a few gigs, or one of my super cheesy pop song recordings is about the same. 200GB seems like a lot to me today, but I'm sure if I read this 3 years from now it'll be a drop in the bucket of the storage that future machine will have. Just as my 340MB hard drive felt cavernous in 1993 (that's about 1/10th of 1% of what I've got now).

Is it too much information? I've got emails I wrote from 8 years ago or more. Surely I don't need every email where I say "sure, meet you there at 6:30" or what have you. But how do you cull that out, by hand? It would take forever, and what if that email is the confirmation of a first date with the girl I end up marrying. Maybe then I'd want to keep it even if it is of a mundane nature. You just never know. I'm glad I've kept seemingly silly emails from my father, for example.

If you talked to my dad about the year I was born, 1975, when he was my age, he'd reach back into his memory and come up with an anecdote, or a "Billy, I don't remember! That was 30 years ago!". However if my kids ask me about today in 2035, I'll be able to reconstruct what I worked on, who I talked to, what I said in those conversations, what I had for dinner, and how I paid for it, etc. We'll have such a record of the past that it may feel much less distant. And certainly the "haze" of memory won't be a viable excuse, but perhaps the "romance" of memory will suffer in its absence.

The reason that I built this new machine in the first place is that it uses 2 hard drives that back each other up as I work, so that the chances of me loosing everything drop dramatically. Most people (this means you) don't do this however and bad things do happen. So, please, I beg you, go backup your photos and writings and important documents onto some CDs. An ounce of prevention. I wouldn't want your deprive your kids of that haircut from 2002.