Virtual Memories

When I was a kid, we kept our family photo archive in the front hall closet. Actually, I’m pretty sure they’re still there. Stacks of slide carriages in yellowing Kodak boxes, and shelves from floor to ceiling jammed with albums. Their covers were the colours of my childhood – avocado green, dark brown, orange – and the inside pages were the sticky ones with the film of plastic that peeled back. No, it wasn’t pretty, and venturing into the closet carried the very real danger of a bookalanche, but it was surprisingly easy to find what you were looking for as long as you put everything back where you found it.

We had special nights where we all strolled down memory lane together. Mom made popcorn. My brothers and I curled up on the couch, our eyes glued to the screen while my dad cycled through the memories. Without fail, I, the youngest by far, would start whining because it took so long to get to any pictures of me, and every time when we finally got to my arrival, it was my bedtime. I always got to stay up late on those nights.

I have my own little family now and we also have a growing collection of memories. Pre-digital pictures are thoughtfully filed away in albums and binders in the basement. They fill a good-sized filing cabinet and are reasonably easy to sort through (if you can wade through the basement detritus to get to it). Digital memories, on the other hand, take about the same space as a hard-cover book in the 3-dimensional world. Three camera’s worth of memories are on our external hard drive. However, we are running out of virtual space. And if you don’t know the precise date of what you’re looking for, you’ll spend hours trying to find it. Seriously, it’s a bit of a nightmare. And just try to get my man to delete something off the camera before he uploads it to the computer. (No, really. Could someone please talk to him?)

Recently, however, we set up the computer screensaver to cycle through our entire collection of pictures. It’s just lovely.

Mostly.

Remember, my man doesn’t like to delete photos. Occasionally, a freakishly unflattering moment will flash across the screen – and it’s always when we have guests. So, editing is still important, but at least, having seen it recently, I have an idea of where to look for it before I send it to virtual Siberia.

Of course, accessing these virtual photos could prove to be an issue in future generations. Future generations? Hell, at the rate technology is evolving, I worry that we won’t be able to view them by the time our son is ready for college. Try buying a VCR these days to convert your old VHS to digital format. Sure, files can be converted, but only for so long before they become obsolete, or at least a huge and expensive pain in the ass.

Maybe it’s time to start scrapbooking.

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