Day 3 of Austin PASIG welcomed Gordon Bell, Principal Researcher at Microsoft. “I represent the demand side: I produce what you have to archive”, Gordon started out. He has been digitizing and digitally preserving everything about his personal and business life since 1998, to help/complement a human being’s faltering memory.
Gordon predicts that life logging (which can be private, as opposed to “blogging” which is public) will become significant business for Microsoft. Bell: “With extreme life logging, all of us will have the ability to recall or have recalled everything we’ve ever said, seen and done … just like today’s political candidates.”
Gordon now captures about 1 GB a month (he gave the audience a few-minute preview), and he wrote a book about the experiment, Total Recall. He estimates that every single person’s life can be stored in about 10 Terabyte of data. But good self-archiving tools are essential, and that is where Microsoft may see a business opportunity.
Someone in the audience asked Gordon how much time he spends organizing (structuring, adding metadata, etc.) all that material. His answer? He hired an assistant to do that work …
Is this an archivist’s dream or an archivist’s nightmare, one wonders. Dan Stanzione of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) had few illusions about the billions of files he stores. “More than 90% is write-once-read-never stuff. We call it ‘scratch’ and purge it regularly.”
Dan also had a down-to-earth definition of forever: “For most people, we make ‘forever’ 5 years with some implied things about free renewal, and some language about providing,” echoing comments by other speakers that “forever” is really not a workable proposition.
Start small, start simple, start with five years, was the general consensus, and take it from there. Because if you try to take on more, you risk getting overwhelmed and not doing anything at all.
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