Friday, June 27, 2008

Internet Ephemera

Like I do on a pretty regular basis, this evening I was thinking about when that big-ass magnetic storm or wayward asteroid knocks out all of our electrical grids and digital communication networks. [It's only a statistical matter of time, and if you believe all the doomsday programs on the History Channel, we have just under four years.] I sometimes question my judgement for not keeping elaborate scrapbooks, photo albums and journals like I used to - instead depending on services like Flickr and this very blog you're reading to document the myriad of experiences and thoughts that make up the story of a life.

magnetic storm

We're quickly growing accustomed to the freedom of wireless data systems, where anyone can draw their personal files and any information they choose down from "clouds" such as Apple's MobileMe. [I don't know how many times I've downloaded a song I wanted from iTunes, Beatport or a friend's site in the middle of a DJ set and cued it up in a matter of seconds.]


What was once a very traditional website with something called a root folder, Burnlab is now powered almost entirely by Google and Flickr. I don't even know in what city and on what server most of my files are located anymore. [Thank goodness to Datavibe for the archives.] The point of this new age is to not know or even care - just to know that we can access any and all of it any time we please. This is wonderful. This simultaneously brings us one small step closer to The Singularity and to a world of unlimited information exchange. In other words: a total information utopia where knowledge is less of a commodity and more of a universal tool to better society. As it should be.


The ephemeral nature of the internet struck me today as I was digging through some old, old pages on Burnlab [and by old, I mean 2001 or so... which in not old by any other measure, except perhaps when discussing the life cycle of mayflies.] The Modus page was a section of this site which was more or less a link page/shrine to some of the artists and organizations that have had the most impact on my creative process. Poking around, I was dismayed - but not surprised - that about 70% of the links didn't work anymore. If you go to the nav bar on the top left, you'll find that much of the old Burnlab site is broken in some form or another. This can be attributed to sloppy server change-overs and multiple hard drive failures, but that's exactly how these things happen - and they happen a lot.

On the up side, I was very pleased to stumble across some old pages from the L0C810N site and Dorkwave site, including the Noise page - which includes still downloadable mixes we did in the spring of '05 and charts that go back as far as '03. [Among the many plans on my lengthy to-do list is creating a proper archive of the Dorkwave golden years some day. Actually, I should really make a time capsule of every Burnlab related project. Not that most people would give two rats' asses about it, but I'm a documentation freak like that.]


It's kind of messed up that one would be pleasantly surprised to discover that a web page they created only a few years ago still exists. I don't want to get all Luddite or Y2K here, but I'm seriously thinking about taking a more analog approach to documentation - at least in tandem with digital media. I know the chances of losing your boxes of photographs in a fire is much higher than a solar flare or a shift in magnetic polarity wiping out every hard drive in your hemisphere, but as our society relies more and more on ambiguous remote servers and web 2.0 aps as the sole record of our place in history, the more vulnerable we become to having the history of our entire society lost in one cosmic burp.

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