I can't leave it at 59,586 words, can I?!

August 31st, 2016, 2pm

Yes, I know I said that my update on Aubrey and Daddy post yesterday was going to be my last, but then I did what So-Shan did and looked at how many words I’ve written in all the moments that I’ve posted to Hi.


And like So-Shan, I do have a perfectionist streak in me (my wife would say it’s far more than a streak!), so I thought that it really wouldn’t be good to leave the word count just 414 short of that nice round number of 60,000!

Hence this final, final post.

I thought it would be fitting to make a few comments about the impermanence of digital. Yes, you did read that right. I said the impermanence of digital. My one Editor’s Pick post touched on this point – referring to books in my father’s library that had lasted for 500 years in a usable state, contrasted with our Kindles that probably won’t work in 10 years’ time, let alone 500.

While physical books and artefacts do require a certain amount of care and curation if they are to last that long, it’s amazing how forgiving they are of poor treatment and, indeed, of total neglect! But I have floppy disks in a drawer at home that aren’t even 20 years old which I strongly suspect are now unreadable, even if I had the hardware to insert them into (which I don’t!).

And that’s where the main problem lies. The level of active, thoughtful, planned curation required to ensure that digital material both survives and remains accessible is far greater than for many physical artefacts.

In telling us about the close-down of Hi.co, Craig excitedly told us that the whole site will be archived by “printing it on a two-inch by two-inch nickel plate, to be stored in five cultural institutions around the world (including the Library of Congress).” That does indeed sound impressive, but in reality it means that no-one will access it, at least not in that form, ever again. If Hi.co does live on, it will be because posts have been copied elsewhere or have ended up in the WayBack machine – see https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://hi.co , for example.

I feel slightly guilty at saying something so cynical, but I think it is a sad fact. That as we’ve moved from the physical to the virtual, things have become more and more transient and less and less likely to last, unless of course you print them out onto good old-fashioned paper!

Or perhaps I’m just joking? ;-)

And on that note, this really is good bye, as I think I should now be just over the 60,000 word mark!

So-Shan, Christine, David Wade, Porter and 2 others said thanks.

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Adrian Tribe

A follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and father, a Kentish Man (not a Man of Kent), a commuter to London

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