If I Win the Lottery...

We all have that conversation, if I won the lottery, I would . . . Well I would become a full time book collector but what I would collect would change a bit. I am hearing that the archiving and collecting of digital archives are a bit of a nightmare. All those author hard drives and flash drives of email are proving difficult for institutions to maintain. Some libraries have stopped taking in hard drives. I heard one author's digital archive arrived with great emails and files but also a set of viruses. You know how tough it is to get rid of a 1993 computer virus?

Acquiring, maintaining, making available and protecting a digital archive is a full time job. Maybe private collectors can play a role in this, but maybe this is a role that a corporation, like Google, Apple or Microsoft, can play. It is early in the history of collecting digital archives but there are signs that the traditional libraries and institutions will not have the resources or inclination to do it.

With $250 million in lottery winnings I could do my part. Yet I have a suspicion that it would lead to disaster. I have visions of me frantically creating jerry-rigged machines like those out of Blade Runner in a desperate attempt to read and access thirty year old electronic data like William Gibson's emails to Bruce Sterling or something. I would be like something out of a cyberpunk novel with me spiraling into madness in a room like outfitted like a set of Terry Gilliam's Brazil printing endless reams of paper in hopeless bid to preserve my Library of Alexandria from vanishing into the ether in a worthless pile of malfunctioning hard drives.

Kind of glad I did not win the lottery.



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