the opposite of the cloud

Data of mine that has been lost and hence is in the anti-cloud, or is on its way there (for Pop My Mind):

  • Music and recorded Ipswich Community Radio Friday Breakfast shows on a thumb drive that stopped working one morning at the radio station, September 2016. All the tracks and most of the shows were backed up (hi, Izzy), and interviews are also available on Listen Again at the station, but there are a few solo shows that only I had.
  • Whatever was on that other thumb drive in the shape of a panda that I lost in Hamburg after staying up all night to make the early morning Gatwick flight to the Language in the Media conference, September 2015. Probably it was just old class materials copied off my 2004 Powerbook, half unreadable with bit rot. Or the missing Friday Breakfasts may have been on that one instead.
  • A paragraph for one of my never-ending projects. I know I wrote it in one of my several cloud accounts sometime in the last four months. I have reconstructed the main work that paragraph did, but the residue that I can’t find and can’t recall nags at me.

  • Text messages, notes, essay and mystery novel outlines written on Nokia E63 Qwerty keyboard phone that was lost or pickpocketed around Shanghai Village restaurant in Arlington, Massachusetts, ca 2010. I was never able to successfully reconstruct the work. There were photos as well. Contacts were not lost because contact backup was one thing Nokia did well with its cloud for dumb and semi-smart phones.
  • Text messages, notes etc. written on Nokia E61i Qwerty keyboard phone that was pickpocketed near bus and train station in Riga, Latvia, March 2009. Also photos including snaps of Moshe Safdie’s Habitat which I had traveled to Montreal in freezing weather to see. 
  • A week’s worth of photographs of Riga on Canon Ixus 40 camera pickpocketed at the same time.
  • Thousands of Twitter favorites, from back when you could only have 3,000 and they rotated. Hundreds of Twitter and Facebook posts and responses that are buried deep in the heap and can’t be easily accessed.
  • Five and a half years of news stories, story drafts, plans, notes, e-mails, calendar data, interviews and other reporting stored on Bloomberg proprietary computer systems and Blackberries when I worked there, 2007-2012. It’s like part of my brain was sent to outer space. If I’m honest, it already felt like part of my brain had been sent to outer space when I was working there. The Bloomberg-specific brain functions, when working, depended on access to the Bloomberg terminal, including the entire Bloomberg News story archive going back to the early 1990s and indexed through the secret folksonomy of NI codes.
  • The earlier version of the Field Notes blog and other files which Dreamhost deleted in 2011 when my credit card turned over (new expiration date) and the hosting bill stopped autopaying itself. I was using autopay for the first time and not alert to this danger. I did have backups of everything except the last few entries. Those could be scraped off the Wayback Machine. One day I will get it all running live again, except for the old template which has been broken by accumulated revisions to HTML/CSS. Field Notes lived from 1998 to 2007 in handwritten HTML pages on helsinki.fi, then Blogger (hosted at multics.org, the lonestar/sdf public access Unix system), and then WordPress (hosted at Dreamhost).
  • Three years of e-mail from Apple’s .mac server, 2004-2007. Still on the Powerbook and backups but will eventually be unreadable. I should burn it to a DVD while I can.
  • One year of e-mail from when I worked at the University of Tampere. Downloaded to Mozilla but not sure where it is now; possibly burned to a CD. Thumb drives were just becoming cheap. I had only recently been talked out of investing in a Zip drive (hi, Rob).
  • Online journals, blogs and forums that other people wrote and took down, 1998-mid-2000s. It’s their right to take them down. I’m just saying I miss the information in them. It’s why I am committed to restoring my own archive and rebuilding links as far as possible.
  • Napster music files downloaded during the early peer-to-peer filesharing years at the University of Helsinki. I have replaced most of the tracks over the years, legally. What I really miss is the playlist of what I was listening to in the mid-PhD period.
  • E-mails and newsgroup posts saved month by month to my disk quota and then to floppy disks during early years in Helsinki. Some of the floppy disks have become unreadable and some files I deleted by accident or in desperation for the space. Some I may have abandoned in a locker in Valtsikka that I forgot about. Some other files on mappi.helsinki.fi and valtti.helsinki.fi are also lost, I don’t remember what. 
  • Primitive computer games that were on a computer I bought from my employer TeamWare when they discarded it. Really primitive. There was a driving simulator that was drawn entirely from ASCII characters, and a Concentration game where you matched TeamWare icons to each other. I deleted most of them so that my flatmates (hi, Z)  and I would have room for our own programs and data. A box of 3.5-inch floppy disks was still a major purchase and some of the games were too big to fit on a single floppy.
  • Translation, proofreading, technical writing, and e-mails on work computers at TeamWare, Trantex and other companies.  We used TeamWare Mail and then Lotus Notes. More bits of my mind sent into space.
  • One year of e-mail on Delphi filesharing system from my last year in New York. The e-mail is on the Thinkpad 700, my first-ever computer from 1993, but I’m not sure it still boots. The external interfaces were serial, parallel and PCMIA slot – in fact the very zippy PCMIA II – for which the data storage cards were prohibitively expensive. Also on it are some reporting files I wrote on the Time magazine Atex publishing system when freelancing there. 
  • News stories for journalism school on 3.5-inch floppy disks that have now partially degraded, including the one with the contextual essay for my MSc project.
  • Personal e-mails on Columbia University’s Unix system. Government data files downloaded via Gopher onto same.
  • Five years of interview transcripts, position papers, report drafts and weekly news digests – eerily similar to filter blogs – and other bulletins written on 1980s Macs and PCs from my job at the Research Board, New York (hi, Maureen and Susan).
  • E-mails and mailing list archives on a Unix server maintained by members of my extended friends group in New Jersey (hi, Hobbit, Siggy, and Mamaliz), in the days before ISPs made e-mail widely available.
  • Stories, story drafts, notes and e-mails written for InformationWEEK on CMP Publishing’s Atex system, as well as press releases and dBase III code and data stored on Leading Edge PCs (hi Michelle, Jean, Charmaine, Susan, Caz, Lisa, Michael, and Paul E. Schindler Jr.).
  • We got so little work done in my first job at Ziff-Davis that I probably still have printouts of all of it in the attic at home.
  • Box of papers and printouts including some drafts of my BSc thesis left in the basement of Bexley Hall (hi C-) when I moved to Central Square. I just didn’t have the strength to drag it down the road or wrangle a driver. Bexley Hall was fully renovated in the 1990s and demolished this year.
  • 5.25-inch or maybe even 8-inch floppy disks (actually floppy) containing drafts of my BS thesis, unreadable since soon after they were recorded in 1985. Losing these and the printouts is painful because my advisor told me she secretly preferred the earlier draft of the methodology chapter to the final one.
  • On diverse systems at MIT during undergraduate years:
    • E-mails, BSc thesis and papers on the Artificial Intelligence Lab Unix system (oz), many of the e-mails from an extremely diverting social listserv (hi, Bandy and the gang);
    • News stories, story drafts, notes and e-mails on The Tech’s Atex newspaper publishing system;
    • E-mails, letters for printing and mailing, code and term papers created on general student timesharing (demeter) Unix system;
    • Classwork for 6.001 (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs) on 8-inch floppy disks for HP Lisp machines;
    • Personal e-mails on Concourse Computer Center (ccc) Unix system, although I’m glad some of the flamier ones are gone. Some of the e-mails were printed or written on teletypes (hi, Phil) but I’ve lost the sheets;
    • Superconductor laboratory and research office data and personal e-mails on Multics and IBM timesharing systems;
    • Box of IBM cards keypunched for my job in the undergraduate research office, before I figured out how to break into the timesharing system and type the data in directly.
  • 25-page letter typed on 7 x 9 inch sheets with drawings to a friend who had moved away (hi, Ingrid), detailing everything that had gone on in high school since she left. Eleventh grade. I would like to read it again.
  • Amateur newspaper that I handwrote on 8.5 x 11 inch paper, seventh through ninth grade. I had not yet discovered interviewing and had little idea what news really was. I’m not sure I actually mourn this.
  • Tiny little sheets of binder paper onto which I obsessively copied Gilbert and Sullivan lyrics, third grade. I don’t really need these since the data exist in many formats without my Toraic copying. It’s kind of an embarrassing waste of effort. My vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds though.
  • Scroll of birch bark given to me by a friend of my parents with the explanation that this was like paper and had been used for manuscripts by the Indians (only now do I realize he must have meant in South Asia, not New England – hi, Google). Thrown out by my mother while cleaning. I was about four. It was the biggest loss I had ever experienced. Not until I was nine did the first cat die.
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