Saving Digital Objects

April 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

How do you keep the things you can’t hold in your hands? One of CraftCvltvre’s goals is to compare and contrast the material and digital manifestations of niche culture, and this is one area where they couldn’t be more different. The lack of tangibility inherent in digital objects can make them feel ephemeral, especially if they’re hosted online and could change at any moment or even disappear entirely. And a lot of dark handmade fashion branding – lookbooks, other promotional material, etc. – is only available in digital formats, not to mention much of the other art and media produced by the community. So how does one hold onto it?

My personal method for archiving digital objects that I find online is to use a combination of Dropbox and an external hard drive. Dropbox is great because it’s a true file system I can access from both my laptop and my phone, and the external hard drive is great because it has enough room for all the larger files. No system is perfect, however – I just have to trust that Dropbox’s servers will stay up and my external hard drive won’t go kaput. The instability of digital backups, it seems, is the price I pay for all the advantages and conveniences the digital has over the material. (Don’t worry, though, I do make redundant backups for the really important things.)

Curiously, however, I’ve pretty much stopped buying media in physical formats (paper books, music CDs, etc.), despite how much I like owning things that have a stable material presence. I guess it speaks to how much more I’m obsessed with minimalism – I feel like anything that can be digitized should be, for the sake of conserving resources. There are always exceptions, of course, such as buying prints of art and photography to hang on walls. Another interesting example to me is Chelsea Wolfe’s film Lone, which as of yet is only available on gorgeously embellished USB drives. In this case the physical medium seems like part of the experience.

What are your thoughts on and methods for saving digital media?

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