Empty Vessels


The danger is not that the information will be lost, it is that we will allow

un-examined assumptions to inform our behaviours.

I don’t know if you have been in a furniture shop lately, and if you have if you noticed the amount of empty vessels they have sat everwhere? Huge empty pots, round balls. Don’t get me started on the dry sticks in vases.

In my eternal search for the fusion of form and function, empty vessels  fill me with a kind of existential dread.

Which brings me (somewhat awkwardly)  to my continued love affair with floppy discs.

I have two untested theories relating to digital preservation and organisational change (my current thesis research).

Untested theory #1. 

The perception that files stored on floppy discs are copies, or that paper based records containing the same information would have been kept.

Untested theory #2.

That information stored on redundant tech is subconsciously de-prioritised out of a reluctance to deal with the consequences.

I’m curious to know if my assumptions are correct, and if so how widespread they are. I’m hoping it will be a step towards challenging some of the barriers to initiating digital preservation activities.

The standard of labeling on the floppy discs I work with is marvelously haphazard. Most common are things like ‘*dave’s disc’ – very useful. Also common is ‘admin files’ – better, but still. This lack of descriptive metadata is just one of the first hurdles.

We need to access this information to make appraisal and sentencing decisions but we needn’t do so assuming further intervention will be required. Once simple guidelines are in place organisational inertia can get easily overcome. And we can find out what Dave had on his disc.

Just when I thought I was getting a handle on the technical side of things I read about the flippy disk problem. My rudimentary understanding is that on some floppy discs information was stored on both sides, but that currently there is no way to retrieve it. Flipping hell! Or like my friend Ben said when we were discussing this at lunch, its like a world where the Cures entire career is LoveCats and you never know about Mr Pink Eyes.

* names have been changed 🙂


About Michaela Hart

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