Digital Archaeology and Assuming the Future Needs Me


Oh, sorry, I haven’t been writing here. Part of that reason is because I’ve been engrossed in the project of enhancing my photo disorganization process that’s taking up a hefty amount of my time.

You see, when the civilization we know collapses and another one builds itself up to the point that digital archaeology becomes a treasured pursuit and academic discipline, people of the future will be working to match physical remains of our era to digital records on dusty servers that philanthropically funded projects will work to restore. On the internet, in my Dropbox account, a future civilization will find my disorganization audit file. They will eventually be able to match it with the physical archaeological artifact of my vast collection of photo albums, but to know what corresponds to what to make sense of an average Westerner’s life, they will need to decipher a code.

“Decipher” is a term generous to the level of cracking required. Literacy of the Latin alphabet isn’t even required to match the shapes labeled in my file to the letters I’m in the process of writing on the back of all of my photos. Someone may make it their discipline for an entire academic career to build up a wealth of information on my life and the life of those around me from these pictures I took. Like a Pharaoh building his own pyramid, I am slaving over my coffee table in an ergonomically-challenged position with my laptop by my side to label, count, and record where, when, or of whom these photos were taken.

Diaries of commonfolk in history have provided invaluable information about the everyday lifestyles of their times. History is disproportionately informed on the great leaders and glorious wars, on artists and clerics and explorers and gods, but the social history of subjects and plebeians and peasants and serfs is lacking in spite of its 90% share of the people of the past. The 99% protesting on Wall Street are fighting for their due recognition in our own society today. I’m working for my recognition in societies of the futures, at sacrifice of my own time.

Well, in that time I would otherwise be doing something of little immediate value. Adventurous people say to live for today, but how I see my today is as an intrigue of hundreds of years past tomorrow.


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