Like Donna, I’ve also been thinking a lot about what gets lost and discarded that may be an essential part of our history. It’s strange: today, scholars care so much about preserving these pieces of the past, maybe because we know how small a sampling it represents. We have just a relative handful of Old English texts to choose from, considering how much was probably produced that didn’t “rate” preservation. Those that do survive are clung to desperately. Interesting when you realize that the same vigorous preservation was hardly applied to early digital sites. This seems to me a bit like history repeating itself: a new medium comes along, a new form of expression, but relatively little of its genesis survives over time. I may have already mentioned this at some point, but remember Geocities? Old school free web hosting, back in the days when we were still dazzled by the “free” nature of the Internet? Yahoo bought it back in 1999, and about a decade after that, they shut it down. Archive.org goes into a few of the details here: http://www.archive.org/details/2009-archiveteam-geocities-part1
Basically, when Yahoo closed down Geocities for good, more information than is stored on all the paper in the world just went *poof*! Gone. All that survives is a ‘snapshot’ put together by the archivists at archive.org. Now, by and large, I’m sure what was lost was like N*Sync fansites that hadn’t been visited in a decade, but who knows? It gets you thinking, not so much at first about the need for preservation, but the subtleties of loss. Some are still bemoaning what might have been lost when Rome burned in 64 AD. But the vast majority of what Geocities contained was only lost two years ago, and I didn’t even find out until last week.
On the practical side of things, I feel I’ve taken a step backwards this past week when it comes to programming. Last week, all was good, I was able to run some of the code, practice my “Hello World” and whatnot. Now I worry I’m back to square one, because once again, the problem is that I can’t figure out how to alter pre-existing files on the site, so I have no idea whether any of my attempts at coding are working, or even what errors they might encounter. It’s frustrating, because I want to experiment and try things out and screw up, but I can’t even figure out how to get off the ground. Maybe the issue is with NetBeans: it only wants me to upload unique files, not alter the files that are already up. And an attempt to create a new project folder and upload copies of everything gives me trouble with the MySQL database, apparently. In any event, this week I’d like to figure out what went wrong and see if I can catch up quick (presuming I’m the only one that’s encountered this problem).