Welcome To The Digital Graveyard

One of the benefits to being a part of Generation X is our ability to seamlessly move between the analog and digital worlds.

We remember when referencing the cloud referred to white puffy balls in the sky above and filing always referred to something paper based.

If you asked us how we organized our pictures many would refer to the photo albums we had and or perhaps sheepishly mention how we intended to move the photos we had in a shoe box or something similar to the aforementioned albums.

Hell, if you caught us at the right moment we might have told you about the great trip or party we were just at and how we hoped our pictures were good because in the days of film you had to wait and see if your snaps were worth saving.

That is because it sucked to blow a shot on a roll of 12, 24 or 36, especially when you had to pay to find out that your photo was out of focus, Aunt Bunny had closed her eyes or discovered that some kid had photobombed you.

My apologies if that was me, back in those days I took immense pleasure in casually inserting myself into the background or side of your photo.

aboutphotos

Welcome To The Digital Graveyard

My little sister and her family are somewhere in the skies above us.

In a handful of hours they’ll be back on their side of the country and will resume their normal lives just as we have done here.

Ten days and several hundred pictures later I am not worried about whether I took good or bad pictures in the same way I once was because digital photography has turned the particular world upside down.

What I do worry about is trying to make sure I have saved my files in places that will help them live forever or at least long enough for us to look back upon them in the years to come and smile at the memories we made.

But because I don’t have to develop and print my pictures anymore I have fallen into a habit of not printing out any shots.

Instead of trying to find space on my shelves for new albums filled with photographs of memories I never want to forget I have a growing digital graveyard.

Granted my digital graveyard consists of more than just photos. There is an assortment of other odds and ends living in my cloud and other forms of digital media.

I try to make a point to clean our my inboxes, Google Drive and all of the other places the digital stuff accumulates but because it doesn’t take up hard space and because storage has become so cheap I am not as active about maintaining order there as I should be.

Unless the photos are really, really bad they end up sticking around and even though I try to create digital albums there aren’t as many as there could or probably should be.

Death and Digital Files

I don’t mean to be morbid, but sometimes I think about what will happen to my digital files when I die.

Some of the files I keep online will definitely need to be passed along to family but not all.

No need to give them the digital detritus anymore than I would want to pass along old file folders filled with things that have no value to anyone besides me.

It reminds me of Ozymandias:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I suppose I am no different than many when I say that I hope after I am gone people have good memories and that I made a difference in the world.

Maybe that digital graveyard will have more value than I realize and help provide the proof that I did more than just take up space.

Maybe 200 years from now my great, great, great, great-grandchildren will use those files to see what life was like now and to gain some benefit or insight into their lives and their world.

Assuming that the files survive and they’re still able to access them.

But I don’t have time to worry about that now because I am too busy trying to clear out the junk and figure out the best way to maintain my digital photo albums.

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7 Comments

  1. Larry January 5, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    At least the photo albums got the once over when the previous generation passed. When we passed our stuff will simply be deleted and sent off to the digital graveyard. Find immortality elsewhere.
    Cool saying by the way.

  2. Danny Brown January 5, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Hey there Josh,

    This is a subject I’m thinking a lot about, since having my own kids a few short years back.

    Like you, I grew up with analog, and made the switch to digital probably around 10 years ago. Maybe less.

    Like you I have a wonderful collection of hard copy pictures and mementos (including eight albums from my wedding).

    Now, though, you’d be hard pushed to find anything hard copy, as Google Drive and USB drives take over.

    It does make me wonder what kind of reference points we’re leaving for future historians, as no doubt the tech we’re using at the moment will be obsolete.

    I read a great piece recently about this generation being the one that history forgets, due to our reliance on digital solutions.

    Time to get to Walmart and bulk printing, methinks.

    • Joshua January 5, 2016 at 6:38 am

      Hi Danny,

      Sunday night I showed my son the ‘old’ slide projector and the boxes of slides I never look at anymore and haven’t in years because even though I still have the ‘tech’ to use it, I don’t. It is never top of mind anymore.

      Funny to remember how I left for a trip in ’85 hearing my dad assure me slides would be preferable to film. Everything changes. 🙂

      • Danny Brown January 6, 2016 at 4:31 am

        Ha, whenever I hear the term “slides” I either think of embarrassing family trips to the beach, or boring Religious Education studies.

        At least one of them got better with time. 🙂

  3. Lori January 4, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Oh Josh, this is a real advantage/problem that comes with the digital age!
    How to organize the many-more digital photos than you ever would have had on photo paper! How to back them up and then back up the backups so nothing is lost! How to be sure, even of that! 🙂

    I don’t think its only a problem of being disorganized, though, or of taking too many photos so much as a desire to live in the moment and let the past take care of itself. What do you think?

    My uncle used to ask me what I was taking up in university. When I told him he always said, “Just make sure you’re taking up more than just space.” LOL

    • Joshua January 4, 2016 at 10:55 pm

      Hi Lori,

      A desire to live in the moment and let the past take care of itself is such a beautiful sentiment. I have been thinking about it all day, I love that.

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