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Four Thousand and Twenty Two People Saved

So, recently, I've been back on a Doctor Who kick. I have to catch up before Ten(nant) and Donna come back, because they were my favourites, back in the heyday.

But in doing so, I'm going back through old DVD rips (I had to move and digitized a lot) and -- well. Re-making the DVDs, basically, so I can watch them on the big screen without having to sacrifice my computer for hours at a time so I can hook up an HDMI cable and watch that way. Easier to just use my DVD player.

But it's just got me thinking, about the nature of media and intangibility of digital data. On one hand, one could argue that a flash drive holds all the information, and surely that counts as physical media, correct? And yet it doesn't seem to hold the tangibilty of a DVD itself.

There's also the way we relate to media, now. Streaming is so much the norm that it's actually odd to own DVDs for a lot of people now.

I think part of it is space. My apartment is packed full of stuff, a lot of which is books or hobby supplies, and where am I meant to store all of this physical media? DVDs are relatively small if I'm willing to de-case them, but in that case I had better have a good filing system for the spindle or DVD holder I put them on. I'm a millenial, I can't afford a house, who's got one of those? And so we digitize for space.

Then there's ease of use/convenience. We pay for the streaming convenience fee with ads, but you don't have to get up and change out the DVD every time you want to pick an episode. Is it worth it? Debatable, but our inherent mammilian "I should be lying down napping for a solid 40% of every day and yet I'm forced to work for 8 hours and have to fit the entire rest of my life in the other 4-8 I manage to stay awake through" misery means we're far more likely to use the remote on the sofa and sit miserably through ad breaks than get up.

There's a deliberate attitude to physical media that digital media simply doesn't have. I own a gramophone. In order to play a song, I have to pick the record. Change out the needle. Put the record on, crank the machine, place the needle. Then I can listen for the whole of 2-3 minutes before having to repeat the whole process. So the choice of music matters, it's far more deliberate than simply having Spotify on in the background.

The same for video media. Or a book. When you've got a book in your bag, not a Nook or other device, you have one (1) book available to you, and you're sticking to it, unlike having the world's libraries at your fingertips.

On a similar note, however, digital media (especially streaming) is quickly lost when disregarded by capitalism. We've all seen entire series, movies, etc lost when a corporation decided they were 'done' with streaming it, and it's not available on physical media. There, the great realm of archival piracy flourishes, as it does with retro gaming and other such illegal but oh-so-necessary niches of history preservation.

It's hard to know where hoarding begins and where archiving ends. I remember the woman who filled her house with vhs recordings of her television, and how upon her death we found multiple lost medias in the stacks. When capitalism does not value these things, they lie upon the individual, and can any individual bear that burden in a healthy manner? One man cannot be the only Librarian of Alexandria.

I think this is one of reasons the tiny web is so precious to me: it is decentralized. No one man or company can hit the switch and remove it all, with its millions of tiny servers and tinier websites built on a base knowledge of HTML and a fraction of modern server technology.

There is no real point to this blog post. I cannot find it in me to expect anyone to pick up the mantle of media conservation, not when it is so large and overwhelming. But I do appreciate those who have taken the effort to try, and will continue to value the physical media I own, for the permanence and deliberation inherent in it.