My Ma has just sent me a huge bunch of diaries my maternal Grandmother kept starting in the 1950s and more or less right up until the day before she died at the end of 1993.
Here is what she wrote for Saturday August 1st, 1992 - the day Gabba and I got married
Sat 1 Aug. Davids wedding. Dad forgot his braces. I broke my pearls. Left with Rhys and Bev at 9:45. Picked up Andrews microwave at Upper Hutt. arr Stephens for lunch 12:30. Changed and got to Wellington 1-45pm. Colleen & D & Roy & Ian walking to church from Colleens hotel. Lovely sunny day. Quite a big wedding in lovely Catholic cathedral. Impressive building and afternoon tea in hall beside it. Reon and his mother there. Colleen, Janice & Bev all looked very nice. I wore my mauve felt hat and orchid spray. Dad had white rose bud. We left about 5:45 for Wanganui. Ian in the middle, home about 9:00pm. Carol wore black. BLACK!.
It's fascinating to read her perspective of events that day in 1992 and also right through the 1980s when I spent quite a lot of time with my Nana and Pop. There is day after day of boring unimportant details of what they did together and where they went and who visited them. But there is also golden moments that should and now can be remembered. It's funny to read and sad at the same time. The notebooks record an incredible commitment over more than 4 decades of recording her life almost daily.
Quite what the family is going to do with these diaries is beyond me. I guess that's one of the benefits of dysfunctional families. I can read them and pass them on and that'll likely be the last I ever see of them, I don't have to worry about it.
Those diaries got me thinking though. I'm actually doing exactly what my Gran did, recording huge amounts of what I do every day on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and Linked In (not so much because they are representative of the backwards internet, more on that in another post) and IM and email and this blog and half a dozen other online places. But it's all electronic and not just written with a biro in an old notebook.
How am I going to protect my 4 decades of diary writing so that my kid's kids can read them with the same interest I am my grandma's? What happens when Twitter disappears. More importantly when it doesn't give me access to all my tweets*. Or Flickr closes and I lose the photos therein? When the email I have sent over the last 10 years is consumed by the company I work for? What happens in 30 years when PHP and MySQL and Linux no longer exist?
So, given I usually need a project to work on (which is why you can see how many times we have flushed our downstairs toilet
), I think I'm going to code a system to store my digital lifestream into a database and maybe something almost analog (like XML) and back it all up to the cloud somewhere like Google or Amazon.
If I don't do it soon, it'll be lost forever. How will my grandkids ever find out what I thought of their wedding day if Twitter is bought by AOL and completely buggered?
A stack of Nana's diaries, the first time her Aug 1st 1992 entry has made it to digital over analog. I could bet that the analog version will outlive this digital version. I guess that's my mission to prevent.
*Did you know that you can't currently easily view your oldest tweets past about tweet number 3200? Go back and get them now if you want them yourself before they are gone forever.