TITLE: Different Perspective on Loss
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: April 19, 2010 10:40 PM
A house burned in my neighborhood tonight. I do
not know yet the extent of the damage, but the
fight was protracted. My first hope is that no
one was hurt, neither residents of the house nor
the men and women who battled the blaze.
Such a tragedy puts
my family's recent loss
into perspective. No matter how valuable our
data, when a hard drive fails, no one dies.
Even without a backup, life goes. Even without
a backup, there is a chance of recovery. We can
run utilities that come with our OS. We can run
wonderful programs that cost little money.
Specialists can pull the platters from the drive
and attempt to read data raw.
Things lost in a fire are lost forever.
If we follow a few
simple and well-known rules,
we can have a backup: a bit-for-bit copy of our
data, all our digital stuff, indistinguishable
from the original. In principle and in practice,
we can encounter failures and lose nothing.
In the material world, we cannot make a copy of
everything we own. Yes, we can make copies of
important documents, and we can store some of
our stuff somewhere else. But we don't live in
a bizarro Steven Wright world where we possess
an identical copy of every book, every piece of
clothing, every memento.
In the digital world, we can make copies that
preserve our world.
So, I type this with a different outlook. The
world reminds me that there are things worse
than a lost disk drive. I hope that my
daughters -- who lost the most in our failure
-- can feel this way, too. We are well on the
way to resuming our digital lives, buoyed by
technology that will help us not to suffer
such a loss again.
That said, it's worth keeping in mind Jamie
Zawinski's cautionary words, "the universe
tends toward maximum irony", and stay alert.