In middle school we were all required to build a “digital portfolio” of our work. They taught us HyperCard so we could link each essay we wrote and our photos into a personal HyperCard stack. It was a portfolio that “we’d add to until we graduated” because computers were the future, or whatever.
But what really happened is that HyperCard was discontinued and most of our essays and photos were saved in unreadable formats. Even the floppies themselves that we’d saved our data to were obsolete. After a couple of years the project was scrapped and never spoken of again.
What did this all teach me? Here’s what I got out of it:
- If you’re going to work with technology, you have to keep your skills sharp. Today’s computer skills are tomorrow’s distant memory. It might sound cliche but it’s true.
- Care about your digital data? Then keep an eye on it. Make backups. Don’t keep it one place. Data can become unreadable for many reasons.
- Not all change is for the better. HyperCard was an app that made it easy to create your own software. (Remember Myst? Built in HyperCard.) There’s nothing like HyperCard these days that novice geeks can pick up and play with. Good ideas can be forgotten.
- Paper is still hard to beat for longevity. But then again, do you care about the reports you wrote in your seventh grade social studies class? Not sure I give a shit.
There you go. Sometimes the lessons we learn aren’t the intended lessons; but they’re still valuable nonetheless.