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March 2019 Retro Gaming Article


March 19, 2019 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

MySpace losing 12 years of files shows the Internet is a poor preservation tool for music - and video games

MySpace loses 12 years of files
“Once it's on the Internet, its there forever.” Maybe not. This kind of loss could easily wipe out large swaths of video game history!
I used MySpace many years ago and moved on, as did most of it's members, when more enticing services appeared. But that didn't stop the site from being resold several times and reinventing itself as "music" site of sorts. I've lost track of it's purported purpose, but it is still a functioning entity.

As folks moved from friendster to Myspace and on to Facebook and Twitter - what happens to all the photos, commentary, and files that may have inhabited those accounts as they become dormant? Does the content live on forever as we are taught to believe? Doubtful. Storage costs money whether it be a physical storage locker at Sam's Self Storage or an account on a server farm. Thus, paring down the size of storage is almost always a cost-saver.

Preservation is a great concept, but feels more like a myth.
Recently, MySpace went through a server migration that ended in the deletion of most files prior to 2015. They say perhaps 50 million songs were deleted. Think about that. In one instant - all that is gone. Hard to say how such a thing happens, but it's a great reminder that the internet does not offer a safety-net of "forever".

Think of all the video game history that has inhabited various nooks of the Internet from inception to right now. From scans and photos to written works, there's a lot of valuable info out there. But where? Those who've written countless gaming articles for now-shuttered web zines, discover their written works gone. Nothing but 404 error pages where intricate articles and research has once exited.

Anything we create - physical or digital - needs storage... and curation. Google will direct us to a great many things, but it won't tell you about things it can't find or things that no longer exist. Search engines live in the here and now. If Google can't find it in a matter of nanoseconds, it's probably not worth finding. Right? Tell that to a Smithsonian employee or librarian.

Museums house things from fine art to dinosaur skeletons. The notion of video game museums comes and goes. There are some great collections of games out there, but it's mostly private efforts by those who loved the pixels that made up their childhoods.

Buying old game cartridges and consoles is getting expensive. That goes hand-in-hand with scarcity. Scarcity escalates with time. Where can you find the largest collection of video game history? In Landfills. Yes, the town dump. Garbage trucks have moved more video games products than any single retailer.People move on and things get "thrown away." It's sas, but true... and much too convenient. Even GameStop throws away historic gaming items every day.

You may find that hard to believe, but people almost always take the path of least resistance. As easy as it is to give your old NES or 2600 to a friend or neighbor, it's still easier to toss it in the trash. Lots of people do this, which is why landfills contain the greatest stockpile of gaming's illustrious history.

Nothing is forever. We want to believe that museums will store things forever. Websites will archive things forever. But forever is a misleading and misused concept. Climate change is probably the the most sobering example of "forever" being a myth. Your awesome gaming articles and copy of Stadium Events won't outlive our planet's demise.

If you think most of the "lost" music at MySpace is probably already on SoundCloud or doesn't matter, you're part of the problem. We need to change our ways. A landfill should be the last resort for nearly everything!

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