Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Anxiety and Angst of Electronic Storage

This has got to be either pathological or totally human.
My reliance on storing a lot of my life electronically is causing me some existential angst.

In particular with any creative work like photos or writing.
When you have a photograph or a book it exists. You can hold it. but it's also hard to replicate and you can't instantly share it with 300 of your friends which is a highly addictive thing and something I longed for for years.

Electronic storage is a whole lot like life. It can vanish without much warning. Yes, you can make backups, but what if you vanish and the knowledge of how to get to that information dies with you? What then? Some poor soul is left with trying to untangle things and most likely just starts canceling accounts or deleting things. This is probably as it should be, but it's actually causing me some stress. What if there are important photos that someone might want? Certainly even within my family we are systematically casing my parents house for relevant photos. Should I make printouts of every even remotely interesting photo? From the film days I have several hundred photos and I'm always sort of cursed having them, but now I kinda like that they're there. They take up space and no one can make them go poof at the press of a button.

I'm rarely reminded that I'm in my 40's, but maybe this is one of those types of things. That fear of just disappearing even though that is our fate. What I find interesting is that the one thing that I really find reassuring is that I have created a few large paintings that I like enough that i've decorated my house with them. They command a certain presence and there's something about large paintings that seems to earn a certain respect. It makes me want to make more even though I go through a lot less pain with photography. Maybe that's why they get more respect, I can't just click a button, I have to sweat some to make them.

But it's funny. Why do i care? I think it's that fear of just disappearing. Of wanting to control things after I are gone. I keep thinking that I should leave long instructions by my computer about how to get into every account and photo and writing location (like this one) which might not be a bad idea, but it might be easier just to make real copies of things and also make sure everyone knows where the sites are. It would also really help if I had just one photo site, but I have too much stuff for that, so most of it is stored locally and I'm now reminded that I need to back that disk up again.

And just even coming up with a plan is stressful and send me off in to the same "Why do I care?" cycle again. I need to ask other people what they think but this is never an easy question.

1 comment:

Elf said...

I go through all that with my photos, too. Weird world.

Have been through that with text files. When I started on the Mac, I used MacWrite. I saved all the letters I wrote on the computer. After macwrite went away, then a couple of versions of Word would read those files, but then the later versions didn't, and then the later upgrades to the operating system wouldn't run the old version of word that would read those files. So there are dozens and dozens of small, probably unimportant, but who knows, files from the mid-'80s still sitting here that I have no way of reading.