Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A thought: private libraries


You know those films where there's a big house with a library: either one of those oak-panelled country mansions, with slidey ladders or a nifty little spiral staircase and balcony, or slightly more modern, with shelves for DVDs, CDs and vinyl records. When I was a kid at boarding school, we had similar libraries. At prep school (a converted country manor) the library even had a snooker table, reading lecterns and 19th century Times newspaper reprints. I vowed that one day I would have such a space. A place for contemplation, grazing on information, debating issues with friends with evidence at our fingertips.

Today, as I tidied up my media server, removing duplicates and consolidating different media types onto the one shoebox-sized set of disks, it occurred to me that I had reached my dream, albeit not quite as expected. Over 6,500 tunes, 3,000 videos, 9,000 photos and and small but rapidly increasing collection of ebooks - perhaps 100. Probably enough to fill one of those oak-panelled libraries. In a shoe box.

While the miniaturization is incredible, so rapid an evolution as to be trivial, I couldn't help lamenting the lack of ambience. Sure, I could get the leather chairs and some calm decor and create a 'contemplation space', but I know that it would be superfluous - a nostalgic throwback to a bygone era. With my tablet and headphones anywhere is a contemplation space. And anyone who thinks that's sacrilege should consider which option our forebears would have chosen if they'd had the choice: ipad or all that paper and plastic that had to be stored and indexed and damp & fire-proofed?  Libraries are like boats: really nice as long as someone else has to look after them.

Now, as my sync software finishes its consolidation, I'm pondering online backup options. The photos are already on Picasa. The docs are on Sugarsync. And while I have most of the music/video on CD/DVDs in a cupboard a lot of it isn't. Maybe a Mozy backup to Amazon S3 is what's needed.

Maybe, when I re-read this blog entry in 10 years time, I'll snigger at the archaic media server shoe box backup method and wonder how I ever bothered to manage my own media when its all just there online anyway. As content becomes more and more virtual across all media, so the concept of content ownership become increasingly nebulous.
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