archiving as opposed to backing up

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Thu Sep 23 10:27:04 2004

On Thu, 23 Sep 2004, Teo Zenios wrote:

> You can see pictures of people and places and things from 1000 years ago,
> its called art, architecture, and artifacts. One of the reasons people are

You are clearly not understanding where I'm coming from. Yes, that's all
fine and dandy, but in most instances, artwork is either too ideal or too
abstract to capture the otherwise "insignificant" nuances of daily life
that a photograph captures. Look at all the photos in your collection.
How many of them are worthy for public display in a gallery? Probably not
a lot. But, they say a hell of a lot about your personal life, the world
you lived in, its culture, its inhabitants, etc., PARTICULARLY WHAT'S IN
THE BACKGROUND. THAT'S what I'd like to see from 1000 years ago. Not
the stuff that people posed for, but the stuff that people, going about
their daily lives, were doing while they were unwittingly captured to

> so interested in the past is because of the little information that has
> survived plus their need to learn things nobody else knows. I have read and
> seen lots of pictures on ancient Greece but nothing beats climbing up the
> road to the Acropolis to see it yourself even if it is a shell of what it
> really looked like ages ago.

Minus all the people, the original facade, basically all of the context.

> Same with standing on the center stone of a
> 1000+ year old amphitheater that the ancient storytellers used for famous
> plays. I would love to climb an Inca ruin someday and look out into the
> countryside for miles an miles and ponder what drove the religious people to
> offer human sacrifices on the very spot you stand on.

I have done this, and while the experience was amazing in and of itself,
it was filled with fellow modern day human beings all trumbling around
wondering the same things as I was. Inifinitely more could be learned
about those places if photographs existed. They would tell infinitely
more about the place than what we know from archaeology study.

> I mentioned the finger paintings because every married friend I knew with
> kids loved to show off those finger paintings on their refrigerator to
> anybody within eyesight of them, and I could care less. Unless its your kids
> painting you really don't care. If everybody archived those (which they
> would since it meant something to them) would anybody ever bother looking at
> them in 1000 years?


> There is such a thing as too much information, sensory
> overload. If enough material survives from today so that people from 1000
> years from now are a little curious about us then that is good.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but your main argument is that if there's no
challenge in learning about our past then it won't be worthwhile to do so?

> Let the archeologists dig in our trash pits to see what we read, ate,
> tools we used, fashion we wore, books we read etc. If we lay everything
> out for them (assuming they can make heads or tails out of it) there is
> no mystique to it, nothing to ponder, no need to dig up the past and to
> see for themselves what it was all about.

And this is bad...why? If we have the tools to let our descendents know
every facit of our current lives, wouldn't that be better than them taking
what clues they have and fabricating some great story or myths around
them? For all we know, everything we know about ancient cultures could be
wrong in some significant way, biased by our fantasies and our penchant
for abscribing greatness to things of old that are larger than ourselves
and that we do not understand properly.

> The best thing is for people to read our history from the victors side
> and then do dig up the vanquished to see what really happened.

What are we going to learn from digging up bones that wouldn't better
inform us by way of photographs?

> People always talk about Atlantis because its something mythical
> to search for, if it was documented 100% nobody would care, it would be like
> reading 10 years on income tax forms. Save what we think is important and
> let other generations go dig up what they think was important about us.

Well, perhaps they wouldn't care AS MUCH, but to compare an ancient
civilization to income tax forms is a bit...odd.

> I really think people here collect computers because deep inside it means
> something to them, not because they want to preserve it for others. Do you

Well, in my case I can tell you that you are wrong. I have around 2000
computers in my collection now. Most of them mean nothing to me
personally. In fact, I question my sanity on a weekly basis as to why I
am putting myself through this. The answer is always that it is for
future generations. This is not some idealistic bullshit that I made up
to make myself feel better or to seem impressive to other people. It is
really the reason why I am doing this.

> really want to document every single thing we treasure about a specific
> machine to the Nth degree so somebody even 20 years from now could just look
> it up as needed

Well why the hell not!?!?!?

> or do you really wish something important was forgotten
> from the archive so that somebody decides to find one, put it together, and
> find out what the hunk of metal really does?

You're a real saddist, you know that? There will always be mysteries to
be solved. Why would you want to create unneccesary challenges for people
in the future to solve? We have the means and the foresight now, today,
to preserve information for future generations so that they don't have to
put any guesswork into it and get things absolutely wrong.

If you want to create historical challenges for future generations, take a
pair of your finest underwear, a banana peel, some pencil shavings, a
McDonald's Happy Meal prize, a couple books of any random topics, a few
coins, a drill bit, three sticks of gum, and a toothbrush, put them in a
lead box, and bury them six feet deep in your backyard.

In the meantime, please keep any documentation and software you have with
your old computers so they don't get separated.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
[ Old computing resources for business || Buy/Sell/Trade Vintage Computers   ]
[ and academia at  || at  ]
Received on Thu Sep 23 2004 - 10:27:04 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:37:31 BST