Saturday, December 31, 2011

Archive, Chronology or History?

On the day before the New Year, I continue to give a lot of thought about my key focus for the year to come.  Last year I determined that 2011 was to be my year of organization for all my creative endeavors, family history, personal interests, etc.  And that effort was largely successful as I have now gathered all of those materials into boxes, into foldes on my computer, and online on my web site, blog, and various social networks.  But just having the material organized, I'm finding, is not sufficient.  Rather, it means nothing unless it is contextualized and presented in some consistent accessible fashion. 

Through all of these decades I've been a little fount of creativity and documentation, snapping photos, shooting videos, inventing quoatable aphorisms on Twitter.  And I've saved all of and, as of the end of the Year of Organization, has gathered it all together.  But it is hardly accessible, not grouped in any useful form, and much of it exsits, like this posting, in a vulnerable state in which I have no copy and the only original is hosted on some company's web site like Google+, Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, or Twitter.  If any of those were to go permanently down or change policy to begin wiping less popular posts, I (as many others) would be screwed.

So this year, 2012, is when I begin to obtain a copy of every creative and personal item I've got, put them both on my computer and on the internet both to share and for safe keeping.  This, naturally, presents quite a challenge.  For one thing, there is a whole hell of a lot of material!  Much of it needs to be scanned or transferred.  And, in the case of videos, the intent of this project means that I can't rely on YouTube to achive my material but must host and post copies of every one of those hundreds of mini-movies on my own web site (a technological and time expenditure nightmare, even in this age of easy user interface).

What's more, I've been nagged all this last year by  wondering how I should categorize this material for easy access.  For example, in the past I had established a creative chronology - essentially a day by day clickable list of every item I create, be it a photo, video, or quip on Twitter.  But what happens when I write a clever new caption for a family photo from 1975?  Does that belong in the creative timeline because of the original writing or does it belong in a personal historical timeline because it is about a family photo OR should it only be listed topically by the subject matter or just randomly thrown in the internet equivalent of a storage box that maybe, a hundred years from now, some decendent will turn up while researching the family history?

I guess we all want to leave a legacy, but that doesn't really drive me much these days.  After all, once I'm gone, what will I care?  And is the small satisfaction that I left a recording really going to comfort me much while I'm busy gasping for air once my heart has stopped.  Right.  I'll stop and think of how those to come will know who I was.  Right.

No, the motivation is really more that of the creative spirit - that every human being has a unique view of the world and a life worth sharing - that some of us are driven (for whatever reason) to document the best of what we see, to put a frame around things and figurately say, "Hey!  Look over here!  This is really cool or worthwhile or pithy!"

There's pleasure in the sharing, even if one has moved well beyond the need for external validation (how many views did I get today?  Who the hell cares!!!).  If there is any meaning to life, I suppose it is the communion we can share as one soul to another.  It is in the traffic of information and emotion among us that we can discover the richness that enhances our experience, the savory that blends and elevates our salty, sweet, bitter and sour.

So though I am stymied now in my attempts to parse out this collection of insights and personal history, I am confident that by the end of this year to come I will have resolved all these strategic issues.  An I am even more confident that just the effort alone will prove both enriching and satisfactory to a growing sense of closure.

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