Posts Tagged ‘artist’

Sometimes I think about a problem or situation that doesn’t have an obvious solution. I don’t always keep those ruminations myself, since I often have hope that someone else can come up with funding or a program to help. So, please bear with me.

The situation? Follow my thinking here.

My dad passed away 30 years ago, prior to the digital age, or at least before it developed into what it is now. I remember that he had artistic talent, but his color blindness made painting almost impossible, though I remember he did a watercolor mural of a winter scene that was remarkable (even with green-tinted snow). He started a sci-fi novel once. I’m not sure how far he got with it, but it was about a family on vacation when an atomic war began.

My mother-in-law kept a written journal. She started it in 1953 when she married my father-in-law and kept them up until she passed away in 2010. Along with those journals, we picked up about 20 boxes of photographs from family outings and other events over the decades.

Personally, as a photographer and author, I have created over 50,000 photos, 350 poems, 7 completed novels and 2 partial manuscripts, a movie script, almost 50 published and unpublished articles, a poet’s how-to and two published non-fiction books.

When my wife and I are gone, what will become of all of that data? I know next to nothing about any writing, diaries, art, painting or interests of my past relatives, mostly because computers didn’t exist for most of it. It would be great to be able to read my great-great-grandfather’s short stories or see my aunt’s black-and-white photos, all long gone.

So, my ruminations. There should be an organization that digitizes, for free, a person’s lifetime of work and creativity, for the ages. Yes, you can find birth and employment records on an online genealogy service, but good luck finding someone’s incomplete novel or their collection of pencil drawings. What I envision is a non-profit company, either funded by the government or branches of current technology companies (Facebook, FamilyTree and the like), with an easy to use uploading service. In my mind, the data collected wouldn’t be readily available to the general public until the owner passes away, and would be controlled by that person’s executor or administrator, neither of which would preclude someone uploading theoir own or family member’s content.

Now, remember — I said I hadn’t completely thought it through. Is there a negative of storing personal data? Of course. Maybe someone is found to have been a pedophile or murderer. Should those events be attached? Who gets to make that decision? Should an unpopular or infamous family member get the same consideration as others in the family, and, if so, who will make that happen? Do you really want Jeffery Dahmer’s childhood drawings or Charles Manson’s manifestos available? Perhaps.

I have other reservations as well, but, overall, the thought of all my content that has taken years to create is worth saving for future generations, just like the work of my dad or the daily memories of my mother-in-law.

Someone younger than myself should look into a grant or other funding to start up a digital family legacy program and let us start uploading to it. With drive space so cheap and bandwidth so available, it’s not going to take a billion dollars to set up. I could be wrong about that, I suppose.

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