Periodical 18 — A Personal Web

I am building a personal web.

My name is Chris and I am a data hoarder personal archivist.

Current status of my “_archive” volume:

741,637,054,464 bytes (741.64 GB on disk)
Audio: 267,269,859,244 bytes (267.29 GB on disk) for 8,902 items
Images: 24,176,297,844 bytes (24.19 GB on disk) for 7,650 items
Texts: 3,944,901 bytes (6 MB on disk) for 793 items
Video: 183,328,027,677 bytes (183.33 GB on disk) for 585 items

As far as data hoarding goes, this isn’t exactly a lot. Not that quantity is the point, either — I save things that I worry I won’t be able to find or access some day — but as I gather things in this archive, it really does feel like a lot. Let me try to put this in perspective.

Sightings was an underrated paranormal “news” series that aired on Fox (of course) in the 1990s. It was modeled after something like Unsolved Mysteries but it was far less… seedy. In hindsight, especially, after having spent so much time looking in more depth to many of the subjects it covered, I think it was sincere, thoughtful, and fair. Anyway, I’m a fan. But it’s not reliably streamable anywhere! So, thanks to some VHS pirates around the world, I have scraped together the entire thing — all five seasons — and saved it to my drive. The video quality ranges from 420p to HD, which is fine by me. At some point, the various lists of Sightings episodes on YouTube will go away. But I will do what I can to keep my archive going. Will I ever watch them all again? Who knows. It’s hours and hours of material, after all.

Nevertheless, I’ve done the same with many other things; most of them obscure oddities that I just happen to love. Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World? Got it. I also have the follow-up, Arthur C. Clarke’s World of Strange Powers. Dozens of Frontline, NOVA, and Biography episodes. The entire Craft in America series — which is truly lovely, by the way. All of the BERG videos. I could go on and on.

None of this stuff is guaranteed to be accessible by URL tomorrow, but I am guaranteed to want to look at them again or show them to someone else. That’s why I save it.

Video is just a portion of the archive — not even the largest, by number or volume. Last December, I wrote about my own personal picture collection. I’m constantly adding to it. Just recently, I learned of the beautiful work of digital artist Vera Molnár. After about ten minutes of image searching, I added 77 images of her work and her at work to my archive.

I’m making a library, or a personal web.

Incidentally, this is exactly what the original idea for the web/internet was — a memex: “an electromechanical device enabling individuals to develop and read a large self-contained research library, create and follow associative trails of links and personal annotations, and recall these trails at any time to share them with other researchers… closely [mimicking] the associative processes of the human mind.” I was a good idea — maybe even a better one than what we actually got.

You should build one of your own. Storage is pretty cheap these days.

In the spirit of epic data-hoarding archiving, spend some time with, a 25-year project by Jason Scott to preserve information on the web. You’ll probably find me rummaging around in the /ufo directory.

Here’s an extensive reading list from Scott Berkun. I was surprised to find a few texts on this list that I had not been aware of before.

Gijs Gieskes makes songs with handmade machines that react to sunlight.

I sent my first email in a long while last weekend. I’ll send another one next weekend. If you’re not subscribed, you can do that here.

Written by Christopher Butler on April 14, 2024,   In Log

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