Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One yank, all gone

Mourning the loss of a forgotten website

There are legions of people who joined a band, spent years locked away in a rehearsal room and didn't make it. My own band was called my marilyn. We tried and strived, amassing hours in our underground lock-up as we carefully crafted songs, lyrics, verses and choruses, overdubs and effects. We had the time of our lives hiring vans and playing up and down the country; we'd dye our hair and conjure up stage tactics; we put out a few hundred copies of a single called At The Disco; we clogged up the Royal Mail as we sent our records to as many labels, tags, radios and management companies as possible (ending up completely skint in the process, having grabbed hold of every jiffy bag available in Birmingham). If you play the lottery and watch The National Lottery Show every Saturday on BBC 1, you may know it's the same frustrating excitement. Because those numbers fly by and nothing ever happens, but it's brilliant all the same.

When we split a few years ago I remained confident that our website was going to remain our everlasting testament. In fact, I didn’t even think about it; the proud product of a few hours of work, featuring photos, posters, useless information like the guitarist's favourite summer vegetable, lyrics and music samples, it was going to preserve all those fond memories for posterity.

But the other day something happened. When I tried to access the site, the computer replied he'd have none of it - the screen was adamant that "the website cannot be found". Gradually, the initial diagnosis of "server glitch" gave way to a sinister certainty. Vague memories of terms and conditions started to resurface, including expiry dates and a domain that would only last for a limited number of years. Fact: is no more. A bit like demolishing the Central library. Years to put it up, gone in one yank.

I then remembered an article from a few years ago; someone, in same paper, wrote that the downside of the internet era is that a humongous amount of photos, letters and various documents is at risk of not making it past the threshold of a mere few years. Whereas in the past we'd have physically locked those memories safe and stored them for infinity, today's over-reliance on digital and the internet poses the danger of wiping out industrial quantities of stuff in a relatively short term. Think of a virus, a lost password, an unreliable server, a forgotten batch of terms and conditions. In our case, there was no plan 'b', especially for a cyberinept like myself who'd never heard of the expression "back-up".

So where does that leave us with my marilyn? One thing I've learnt and it's that even audio files of our songs and pictures on my computer aren't safe. If I have my laptop nicked or simply leave it on a train in an act of premature senility, it would only be left to old, scratched, dusty CDs to keep the flame alive. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad idea.


Darren Whitcombe said...

Oh no, this is terrible. Terms and conditions are horrible words to link to memories of amazing times i will never forget. RIP

Anonymous said...

Here you go Claude, something to cheer you up on this blustery summer's day.