Home > digital forensics, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Uncategorized > Things (even data) are rarely lost

Things (even data) are rarely lost

I am trying to find the irony in writing recently about computer forensics and thinking about the archive in the digital age — and then being the one whose hard drive gets in such a shape it does not boot, and all my analytical eye for computer forensics and media archaeology turns to hours of panicking.

After extensive, non-analytical and very affective panicking, lots of traveling around Berlin for cure and a new Mac, I was able to restore most of my files, with something lost still.

One cannot hence help thinking the words of Matt Kirschenbaum (thanks to Shintaro Miyazaki for reminding me of the quote):

“Thus the cold truth of modern data storage: given sufficient resources — that is, elite technological and financial backing — data can be recovered from media even under the most extraordinary conditions.”

Information is rarely lost, as it is, after all, material and physical. The spinning hard drive tells usually a lot more than our ways of accessing files tell us, and it is on this physical level that the ephemeral has a materiality – even if fleeting, and very time-dependent (both in terms of its durability as well as its operationality as dynamic, in movement).

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  1. sdv_duras
    March 19, 2011 at 9:54 am

    hence the great need for ‘delete – the virtue of forgetting in the digital age’… Viktor Mayer-Schnonberger… imperfect perhaps but an enforced removal of data is critically important.

  2. March 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

    in a Nietzschean vein? Indeed – the category of permanence is a flaky one, and Wendy Chun’s writing on “the Enduring Ephemeral” is great too; she insist on the dangers of conflating memory with storage. Memory is fleeting, necessarily so, and the fantasies of eternal digital permanence too are plagued by the fact that the technologies of inscription are themselves temporal (the round and round of harddrives, magnetic storage has its own duration, etc), even if sustained with an assumption of the eternal.

    Its more about cyclicity, maintenance, re-membering and such – storage too (from the artefact based museums even, to digital tech).

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