Here at NWU, we're on a rotation for new computers, every four years or so. For me, that's plenty often enough, since really wordprocessing, a spreadsheet for grades, reading pdfs, and looking up stuff on the web doesn't challenge a computer much.
My new one got installed today. First, it's tiny. TINY.
The keyboard and mouse feel all wrong. Just wrong.
And... it has no floppy drive.
I know, you're thinking to yourself, what kind of idiot uses a floppy drive these days? Shouldn't everything be on indestructible media such as a CD or USB thingy?
To be honest, it's not that I use floppies a lot, but I have my grad school teaching stuff on them, and my first several years of teaching files. So should I need to teach something by Pope other than "The Rape of the Lock" or "Sound and Sense" (both of which I teach in my intro poetry class, I have notes on there. Also notes for teaching other 18th and 19th c Brit lit. My notes from teaching intro women's studies are also on floppies. Maybe I'll never teach that class again, and maybe if I do I won't want to look at the notes because they're already so old. But how will I know that if I can't look at them.
When I first got here, they gave me a big disk called a "Zip" drive, and told me to back everything up on there. I still have the disk, and I think there's stuff on there, but I have no way to check. I think "Zip" drives are a thing of the past.
I have to admit, I'm looking longingly at my books. You know, despite lots of technology changes, I can still look at them easily. I just reach out, open it up, and there it is. And in most cases, the signal to noise ratio is nearly 100/approaching zero, and it's easy to make out. I realize that's not the case with lots of manuscripts that have been damaged or faded due to time, but do you think any of the media you're using right now will be useable in 50 years, much less 500 or more?
And the indestructability of electronic media? I wonder how much magnetic force totally messes up your average flash drive? I listen to books on CD from the library a fair bit, and it's rare that I can actually hear a book the whole way through. Books on tape, well, sometimes there's a problem, but surprisingly not as often as with the CD ones. And books in print? Well, it's rare that a page is torn out, but sometimes people do write on them. And with my own texts, the writing is mine, and sometimes actually helpful many years later. Neat how that works with printed texts, isn't it?
I know deep down that almost nothing I write or do is worth archiving for very long. But some things I want to last for my teaching career, just because there's something very right about having notes, even Dryden notes, just in case I ever want them. (And yes, I also have a paper file system, and no, I'm not switching to an electronic record.)
And this, folks, is why I'm a luddite, except one that also loves computers and stuff.
It's the last day of classes. Thank goodness my grading stuff is safely tucked away on the computer system, eh? Because that will never get lost, never "go down" and never, ever run out of storage space.
What language do your unicorns speak?