Think we prefer the album version, but OK, sure top of the pops
Data may be short-lived today more than ever. Despite Stephen Hawking's later discovery that information can never really be destroyed, it can disappear from public access without a trace.
Nor is it just analog data. Just as books are sold out, websites can be taken offline and bring with them a wealth of knowledge, opinions and facts. (For example, you won't find the entire herbal archive of the old Deadspin on this website.) At a time when stories, songs, or short videos are updated with one click, changes are made and often no indication is given of what came before. There is a whole generation of adults who do not know that a particular gun battle in the Mos Eisley Cantina, for example, was a cold-blooded murder.
The 19-year-old Peter Hanrahan spends his evenings every day with radio broadcasts from the 1960s. As a student from the north of England, he recently started collecting episodes of Top of The Pops – a British chart music show that ran between 1964 and 2006 – after watching the 2019 Tarantino flick "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood".
"I was looking for TOTP episodes when I found that there was a serious lack of TOTP episodes on YouTube, the BBC iPlayer, or other radio programs," he tells Ars. "But I wanted to find out what it was like back then. " then and looking for the atmosphere of the radio in Once upon a time in Hollywood. It was another way to discover music from that time. "
If, of course, Hanrahan just wanted to experience more of the top British charts of the 1960s, he could have just walked to Spotify. But he wants the experience of television as it was recorded back then – including live studio audiences, lip-sync controversy, and suspected sex offenders.
Of course, YouTube has a lot of old episodes, but the BBC tried to remove those with Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter. Today, it's far from a full TOTP library with just a fraction of the episodes Hanrahan wants to look for on the platform. YouTube also responds quickly to shutdown notifications, and episodes that currently exist in one day can disappear the next.
His next stop is archive.org, the venerable nonprofit library that has a massive 411 billion archived websites, 23 million books, 5.5 million films, and a host of other data. They often have what Hanrahan needs, but if not, his next stop is a dark corner of reddit, where it's only possible for someone to get a copy somewhere.
It has taken Hanrahan a long time to find and maintain them, but his work of scouring the edges of the internet and connecting with real people is finally paying off. In his first year as a self-confessed hamster, Hanrahan had collected more than a terabyte of data.
This inconsistency of information goes far beyond the old British radio, of course. And luckily for future generations, the itchiness to look for, collect and store it goes beyond Hanrahan. It is a feeling that is currently causing thousands of people to band together online to archive all kinds of old media together. This is not the well-coordinated operation of the internet archive financed by grants and partnerships. It is the R / Datahoarder driven by individual obsessions.
There is a subreddit for everything
In 2020, the r / Datahoarder community on reddit has almost 200,000 members, with around 1,000 idle or posting at any time in the subreddit. The common purpose here is exactly what it sounds like: these amateur archivists have set themselves the goal of collecting, collecting and storing data for records, reference works and future readings. The goal is often to store this information both online and offline via physical media or terabytes of personal hard drives and storage. In a way, you can think of r / Datahoarder as thousands of random individual Internet archives – although each member tends to have some specific niche focuses.
On r / Datahoarder you will find people who store data on all topics, from YouTube videos to installation discs for games. One person even planned to copy all of the Australia-based websites, even though the country was burning in the worst forest fires in history. The post was deleted after indicating that the physical servers for Australian websites are located outside the country. You're safe for now – phew.
Some users archive every website or service they visit, and the media covers practically everything: movies, music, and porn are very popular.
And for future historians, every tweet, every live stream, every TV and news program of the latest and ongoing Hong Kong democracy movement has been ousted by some dedicated users. It is already proving useful for at least one scientist who visited r / DataHoarder to search for research material for his sociology master's thesis on the protests in Hong Kong.
Any hardware is welcome. While many users have huge storage racks with expensive equipment, even modest raspberry pis are routinely equipped with oversized drives and used as real-time reddit scraper. This embarrassing 3am post about how you really have to get back with your ex? You may have deleted it within seconds of its release, but it is almost guaranteed that there will be multiple copies in private archives – available to your ex upon request.
Mass storage devices from the 90s, such as the Iomega Zip Drive, occasionally float to the surface of the submarine, while their owners rediscover them from a cupboard under the stairs and stimulate discussions about drivers, recovery methods, file formats and readability.
The desire to store information for posterity appears to be almost universal, but manifests itself in different ways, depending on the interests of each hamster. Scroll through the boards and you will find archived websites that offer customizations for Windows 98 computers and novel cursors. You can find users who want to get the entire Internet of a single country at a given time. You will find users whose particular obsession is with satellite weather forecasts for Japan or silent films.
As you may have guessed from a collection of highly motivated and obsessed tech users, r / Datahoarder first started as a single IRC chat channel on freenode. Eventually the community switched to the still used R / Datahoarder, with the R / Datahoarder being launched four years ago. There is also a separate Exchange subreddit, r / DHExchange, in which members try to fill gaps in their collections.
Today's discussion is usually very technical and is mainly about efficient means of storing or hoarding large amounts of data that have been accessed online and elsewhere. Users want advice on hundreds of terabyte hard drive arrays, cloud storage options, and the amazing costs associated with archiving otherwise forgotten legacy media such as shows, music, journals, and websites.
Hanrahan did not get involved out of his love for the musical spirit of the 1960s – old British music acts are just the latest archiving effort he is making. In real life, Hanrahan has 12 drawers with color-coordinated Lego blocks that he uses frequently and an extensive vinyl collection that spans everything from the original soundtrack The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly to music by Red Dead Redemption II. Not surprisingly, he also has a large library for digital games.
"It started by putting things together that I think are relatively hard to find, and just some cool things I find, like old commercials and TV intros like ABCs," he said.
As a small and bizarre fish in the data center pool, Hanrahan's memory is not very large, but it is still considerably larger than what most users would have on their home systems. Its storage capacity is 6 TB, with 3 TB being made available for backups. Every time he runs out of space, he spends an additional £ 100 (about $ 130) on two 1TB drives. He even stores additional drives with his most valuable data in another family member's house and updates his hoard annually.
<img alt = "No, not such a hamster. Save that for AMC. "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/GettyImages-1177469757-640×427.jpg "width =" 640 "height =" 427 "srcset =" https: // cdn .arstechnica.net / wp-content / uploads / 2020/04 / GettyImages-1177469757-1280×853.jpg 2x "/> Enlarge /. No, not such a hamster. Save that for AMC.
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A brief history of the archiving impulses
The urge to store rare or useful records and information has existed since time immemorial. The first archives of written material appeared around 3500 BC. BC – not long after the invention of writing – and the Great Library of Alexandria was founded with the aim of acquiring and hoarding the best and most authoritative copies of all the works ever produced. Use writers to copy the copy onto the finest parchment available – the old equivalent of 8K UltraHD Blu-ray rips.
It wasn't until 1970, with the phenomenal success of the compact cassette, that amateur live archiving of popular live media became possible. Teenagers in their bedrooms recorded live radio broadcasts as they aired the latest pop songs from pirate radio stations. Until 1974, Billboard magazine reported that over 40 percent of all age groups recorded live radio broadcasts, with the number of tapes purchased decreasing accordingly. Home taping is killing the music industry? It started here. The tapes were recorded and re-recorded before being sentenced to disposal or purgatory in a slowly yellowed plastic case or on the back of a kitchen drawer.
The advent of Betamax and VHS soon gave the Hortern a new tool. On request, live and recorded TV shows and films could be viewed from the users' personal libraries. As with tapes, most of the recorded shows were later recorded to make room for the next episode of The Bob Newhart Show or All In The Family. What most people had in mind was not a permanent archive – it was the convenience of being able to see or hear the latest edition of a favorite soap when it suited them.
But when VCRs gave way to DVD players, then DVDRs, TiVo boxes and finally the streaming landscape that we know and love today, VHS tapes suffered the same fate as cassettes. Broadcast TV, like radio, has largely been lost in the mist of time, unless the authors and rights holders have endeavored to create backups and store them securely.
For example, Doctor Who was one of the most successful exports of British television. At its peak in 1982, the show was seen by a global audience of 98 million people. Today, the fandom is obsessed with thinking about the smallest details of the plot, storing episodes, and arguing over which of the doctor's 13 incarnations was the largest.
Between its first broadcast in 1967 and 1978, however, the BBC routinely deleted its broadcasts after it was broadcast on the belief that keeping copies had no practical value. Nine years of beloved Doctor Who episodes are missing. Some clips survive and occasionally a full episode is shown courtesy of a foreign network that found the original 2-inch tape in a box by the side of the couch, but most of Doctor Who's earliest shows have finally disappeared.
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