I've recently suffered the crash of a laptop, for which I thought I was prepared by making copies of files on an external drive. Then I discovered that I had not considered all those programs that I had purchased online and downloaded, which in my crippled computer's moments of lucidity shone tantalizingly at me through their desktop icons, teasing me from the ephemeral safety of some ghost of a motherboard.
Then there are the email addresses, numbering in the thousands but when culled for use, age and likelihood of actually contacting me, are immeasurably fewer but nonetheless out of reach. This is not to mention the messages themselves, not much use except for mining the email addresses of those I was too lazy to add to the address book, which, one regrettably recalls, is also in cyber exile.
Another category of lost bits and bytes is programs which can be reloaded, but whose information, entered painstakingly over many moons, may not be. iTunes, for instance, can easily be updated to the newest function of Pi (version 3.14159, and counting), but once those tunes are stuck to a certain CPU, they won't tune again for you. And for especially IT-savvy bookworms, Bookography allows one to enter not only the titles of books and their authors, but comments, keywords and other nerdy stuff. What is a geek to do when he is unable to review the notes he made while reading How to Read a Book?
Whatever did people lament when information systems were not so complex? Of what would IT crashes of one thousand years past consist? Of two thousand years? Three?
Perhaps the monastery denizen, a bit woozy from stimulating conversation and strenuous calisthenics, spills his gruel onto a freshly illuminated manuscript. Or the Roman librarian, testing the pyrotechnics text in which he is so engrossed, finds that as it has been reported, one can fry ants with the concentrated sunlight through a refracting lens, but not until they've crawled off that stack of dusty scrolls. Or the Egyptian bookkeeper who finds that his meticulous records, scrupulously inscribed upon clay and carefully dried in the desert sun, have been decimated by a group of wayward teens who made great sport of skipping the hardened tablets across the waters of the Nile.
Some right now might be considering writing to tell me that despite my earnest despair, my info may be recovered. Don't. Let me wallow in technological misery, fondly recalling the simple non-techno life of Thoreau's Walden.
(Unless, of course, you can get my music from the iPod to the new computer.)