During the first Dark Ages, folks living in the shadow of the Roman Aqueduct said, “What the heck is that thing?” They yanked stones from it to build their huts, it became a landmark, but as far as they knew, IT was created by wizards—or maybe the more advanced thought aliens were responsible. The records of what IT was, and how and why IT was built were either lost, destroyed, or irretrievable through the methods of the day.
The eight-track cartridge came centuries later. Most of you likely have no idea what that is . . . or was. Let’s just say it was a wonder the wizards, or maybe aliens, of the 1970s built. Some may still exist and carry performance data recorded by the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. But just try finding a machine that will read them today.
Film and vinyl—those things are always readable. Shine light through a piece of film and you’ll project an image; drop a piece of thin metal onto an LP and the vibrations will produce music you’ll hear. What will our kids do with a CD? They’ll likely wonder why wizards and aliens created so many cool coasters for their energy gel to rest on.
Even film and vinyl degrade with time and use. Data gets lost, destroyed, or it becomes irretrievable through the methods of the day.
Let’s face it: As artists and musicians, we’re addicted to the digital workflow. I love my Intel® Core™ i7 processor, and I love my new solid-state drives. I can’t live without the software that allows me to turn dreams into digital reality so freaking fast!
We now create art, music, and literature at speeds of which DaVinci, Mozart, and Chaucer likely couldn’t dream. We have terabytes of space to store it!
And we can lose it all in the blink of a power surge, or the slower, deadlier, birth of a brand new and better technology.
My friend Justin Lassen lost an entire symphony to a hard drive failure. Carmen Rizzo too once lost his work to a backup routine that didn’t do its job. When I wrote my novel, Wizrd, I deleted an entire chapter. We’ve all blown it at some point.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want things to slow down. But we do need to think harder about the future. Whether it’s “the cloud,” a combination of new technologies, or just getting someone to chisel it all down in stone, we need a permanent record. No one wants to see Dark Ages II