In Danger of Losing Our Memories

We originally published this article in February of 2012 because we, along with numerous other organizations, noted a rapidly growing number of dead links, missing videos and websites that no longer exist. 

In an effort to better serve our Classic car web community of over 100,000 members, visitors and followers, we've decided to update and re-publish the story.

Then and Now

Before the digital age, we kept our memories intact differently. We took pictures with film, had them developed, then placed them in albums, envelopes, and shoe boxes. We found ways to store our records, receipts, cards, letters, and anything else we thought was important.

Items handed down to us have been put in special places where we store them until they can be handed down to our children, with the hope they will hand them down to theirs....but are they safe?

We know that they really aren't safe from accidents or disasters. If they are lost or destroyed, we know they are lost forever. These items couldn't be scanned  at a moments notice to make back-ups or copies and there were no hard drives or cloud storage available. If we wanted a copy, we had to go somewhere that had a copy machine. Before that, we usually gave everything away to the new owner. What are you doing about these memories?

Fast forwarding to the digital age, we are now facing a different problem.


OUR DIGITAL ASSETS ARE DISAPPEARING

We take digital photos and make digital copies. We get them instantly and can share them immediately. We rely on numerous electronic devices and Internet sites to capture and store them. They're on computers, in cameras, and in the "cloud". 

We've come to expect that access to all of this information will be easy and permanent. Think again, because the conveniences we take for granted make all of those things very disposable.

Danger #1 - It's not actually permanent 

The digital age conveyed the promise of "permanence". How many times have you heard or read, "if you put it on the Internet, it's there forever." Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part nothing could be farther from the truth

Danger #2 - What is on the Web is expendable

As a society, we have wrongly assumed that in some way, and some how, some commercial organizations were collecting this kind of material, then archiving it so it would remain accessible. They are not. The responsibility of managing this information is ours alone. 


The Beginning of the Digital Dark Age

Websites and the information they contain only disappear for a few reasons. The first is pure economics. When the value of a site is overtaken by the expense to maintain it, or if a company goes out of business, the site will go down. 

Other times great websites, the ones that you might never imagine being gone, have simply vanished. Regardless of the content, they were removed to make room for whatever the newest trend is now supporting. The deleted information was not stored or moved. It was erased. Sadly, the number of sites facing this type of extinction are increasing. 


"Some of the content that existed on the original site was deleted when the archive was built. 
Links to external websites were occasionally added by contributors to stories or messages. 
The pages on these external sites may since have been taken down or moved. If you find that these links do not take you to the correct content or are broken, try doing a search on the external site to relocate the information."


Fortunately, a few organizations, such as Archive.org, have realized this trend is not going to end, so they have been assembling some of the information where it can be maintained without fear of loss. 

The bottom line in any case and regardless if the source is a free or subscription service, anything you contribute, upload, or store online is subject to erasure, changing trends, and the business needs of the companies that offer these services. So what do you do? 

Danger #3 - Your personal items are expendable too

The hard copies of photos and documents we tucked away for safekeeping usually have a place to be kept. We know where they are. We have become too comfortable they can physically retrieved any time we want, but we do know they are still subject to loss. We need a better way to make them safer and to protect from permanent loss.  What are you doing about these important items? 

If you're like most, you've switched to digital. We take digital photos, store them on our digital devices, share them through email, on social sites, and cloud storage. We don't print many hard copies of the photos or documents. Are they really safe? Are they secured behind passwords, up in the cloud, on a hard drive, CD, or DVD. If so, they're protected forever, right?

Just like disappearing websites, our personal digital files are subject to becoming involuntarily temporary and disposable. They are subject to mechanical failure. If every digital record, file, or photo you have is on one device, they could easily be lost. Speaking of lost, what's on your digital camera? Does it use a removable memory chip the size of a stamp? If your camera was stolen or the chip lost, what would you lose
Danger #4 - If no one can get to them, they don't actually exist

We may very well suffer a condition that is going to leave our grandchildren deprived. There are millions upon millions of digital photographs, documents, and records that reside on our various devices. They may be inaccessible to anyone but you.

What happens if you can't access them? More importantly, what happens when no one can? Your intentions might be to share them with our future generations, but too few create and store any kind of easily accessible copies. When was that last time you printed a digital photo or created a photo album?

So, unlike the printed photographs we take for granted, those who come after us may not be able to look at any of the digital versions. If that sounds a lot like what you are doing now, you should at least develop a list of the places you store those digital items, including any log-in's and passwords that you'd like to share with family someday. 

What can you do?

Look for the exceptions and build a plan. Although rare, there are exceptions to the above outcomes. Some companies have been developed solely to capture information and preserve it as long as humanly possible. While most of these sites focus on family history, social history, and the like, nothing has been created to preserve the history of classic vehicles...until now.

Garagistry is one of those rare exceptions. It's where you can personally change the way you capture the details, history, photos and stories associated with your Classic car. When you become a member and place your vehicle history, photos, and information in our care, we will make every effort to preserve it indefinitely. You will be able to access it when you want to and you will be able to share what you want, with the people you want to share it with. 


A plan to leverage the Digital Age to protect what you have

Presumably, the photos and other items you have will be there to enjoy, share, and pass down, but if you don't have any back-ups, maybe you should leverage the digital age to do that. Many precious items are lost each year to natural disasters, home fires, and accidents. There are no ways to recover such things if they are lost or destroyed, but you can begin to develop a plan to capture them electronically for additional protection.

Think about it for a moment. How much value do those things have? Do you consider them priceless? What would you do if you any or lost all of them in a single event? The obvious answer is that if you place any value on them, you should be doing something to protect against your loss.

Don't worry, we'll save you a spot online.

Thanks,
The Garagistry Team