Discovering the Relevance of Words
While at my parents’ house a few weeks ago, I noticed something vaguely familiar on the kitchen counter: a floppy disc; It’s faded green label, holding the scribble of my childhood signature. My best guess puts this artifact near 25 years old, I would have been six, and so it probably contains my earliest writings. Unfortunately, it won’t work on my PC disc drive at work, and I don’t have an Apple II anymore, or an apple that can run a disc drive, so I have no way – at least not yet – to know what treasures it contains.
In my home office I have every notebook, scrap of paper, metacog-log, written-in novel or textbook, and printed copies of the majority of my middle school, high school, and college papers. While some of them may now be crumpled and faded, un-filed, and in no particular order, they are at least readily available. The pieces on that disk, are not.
Over the last ten years, I’ve transitioned from notebooks and scrap paper, to computers and cell phones. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a pen to write in a journal. Instead, I type, hit save, close the application, and assume that everything will still be there when I return. Sometimes I bank it up to a thumb drive. Sometimes I store it in “the cloud,” but most of the time, I simply leave it on a device that could crash at any point, and lose my hard work. In fact, I’m currently thumbing out this piece on my iPhone, while sitting in a plane heading back to Portland. How does this new found technology not scare me? How am I, like the majority of writers, now leaving things to chance, or the hope that someone at the Apple Genius Bar will be able to recover my files?
What happens to this generation’s version of the floppy disc, when next generation’s i-whatever comes along? Time to hit print on those thousands of pages, file them away, and hope there’s never a fire, flood, or magic shredder looking for your valuable words.
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