[iDC] [IDC} Shelf Life

patrick lichty voyd at voyd.com
Sat Nov 17 00:44:52 UTC 2007

Hi, everyone - 
Great that this comes up again.  It's a bit of a cross for us, I think.
Sorry for not being more Chatty (I want to reply to Scott Kildall after
this dies down), but being in academis now rather than my old indie
practice slows me.
I hope not to talk too aphoristically, but this is a topic I got into a
huge row with a student in my Media Theory class this week about this
very subject.
We talked about the impact of durable media of any kind on culture.  The
interesting thing we touched on is that of the lifespan of a video tape
and that of a CD in terms of technological support, hardware
availability, media durability.  His argument is that since all media
degrade, it makes no difference how long it degrades - to him one year
is the same as a hundred (e.g. silent  film). 
However, I thought about how much poorer we would be if the works of
Deren were to have degraded in ten years.  Not all media will be
migrated - yes, this is a truism.  But on the other hand, I feel that it
is useful to engineer media that is durable enough to remain intact long
enough for the historians to get to,
I sit with concern when parts of the Leonardo archive shut down, Mac
Classic goes away, and so on.  It's so much like Gibson's Agrippa, which
erases itself as you read it.  The Internet is truly an oral culture.
I also consider that the current batch of media history being done is
roughly that of the Stewart Brand era - 60's, maybe early 70's.  That
seems to presuppose a 30-35 year event horizon, and this will not
survive except for book entries, and perhaps some video.  I remember
reading books like "the End of the Book", how my father's office in 1983
was going to go paperless, and so on.  None of this seems to really
unfold as we thought.  To expand on George Crlin, I think that the
amount of surety we have about any future prognostication slips away
proportionally to the distance we look ahead in time.
It seems to me that much of history will be defined by the atomic
record, by my estimation.  Adrienne makes a good point about Greek
Theatre, but I counter that events throughout time happen that we are
not accountable for which destroy our records.  We can be responsible
for what is within our power, and this is also out intent or

More information about the iDC mailing list