Friday, March 19, 2010

legacies and the internet

Not sure who might appreciate this, but I find it to be a beautiful piece of writing from an unexpected source. A unique reflection on our technological dependence and the fragility of life. Read it here. I warn you, it won't make sense at first. Just keep reading. Apologies for the pretentiousness.

Here's an excerpt:
The Cloud is just the internet. And the internet is just a bunch of hard drives.

The internet is really good at replicating discrete bits of self-contained data. There are probably a few million copies of any given Loretta Lynn song out on all the hard drives of the world, because lots of people care about Loretta Lynn.

But my photos on Flickr only live on a few hard drives in the world. The hard drives in the database servers. The hard drives in the networked-attached storage devices that are used to backup the database servers. A few of the pictures are on my friends' hard drives, but not most of them, and certainly not the complete collection.

When I die my Flickr Pro account will expire and a large percentage of my photos—girlfriends, family, vacations, my dog—will disappear from public view. They'll sit on Flickr's hard drives until Flickr goes out of business or loses the data.

Someone might send Flickr my death certificate, prove that I'm gone. Flickr might even give them access to those photos, should one of my friends even think to gain it. But more likely no one will even think to look. Part of my trivial legacy will go dark, sleeping quietly on a handful of hard drives.

-Joel Johnson, Gizmodo