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Why I Still Use Physical Media

April 29, 2013

I love physical media. There, I’ve said it. I’m not ashamed. There are times where I really, really like the dead tree editions.

This Bible was published sometime in the 1800’s.
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It’s been in my wife’s family for generations. In fact, it was originally given to her grandmother, for whom she was named. My home library is evidence that books in general are a big part of life at our house. These are just a few of the dozen or more bookshelves that adorn every room in our house.
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There’s a certain visceral attraction for me to books. Especially old books. The idea that there is some innate value in a volume that I can gain and in turn others after me will likewise gain helps me see my place in the universe.

We don’t use this Bible for everyday use, of course. We pull it out on Christmas Eve to read the story of Christ’s birth, and on Easter to read the story of His death. In fact it’s not a particularly useful book. In addition to the King James Version of the Old and New Testaments, it includes a “new” translation and some explanatory information about 19th Century religious sects. Nearly all the commentary is out of date.

My iPad includes a version of the scriptures that are cross indexed, hyperlinked to multiple references and maps.
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This is the latest iPad with 64 gig of memory and Retina display. It was the best you could get when I bought it three months ago. However, it will lose it’s spot as the premier iPad as early as this summer. In five years will I even still have it? (Possibly, I still have some old Pentiums that my kids use for arcade games.)
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But, most likely, no one will be impressed with it. Ten years? It will be quaint. Twenty years? There will be no software for it and probably no power adaptors will work for it. Fifty years? Not a chance. One Hundred and fifty years? It might be valuable as an antique, but somehow I doubt it.

But, look forward 150 years and my wife’s family bible will be even more valuable. It will be over a quarter millennia in age. With proper care, it might still be used to read the Christmas and Easter stories.

The Bible has one other feature that makes it nearly worthless as an antique, but priceless for our family. This is the list of births and deaths.20130428-225844.jpg The earliest is Wilson Martin who was born on March 15, 1851. The last entry is Fay (Martin) Cooley who passed away on January 24, 1984. My wife’s father’s name and birthdate is recorded here. A scanned picture of these pages would convey all the same information, but lose all of the history.

This is a copy of my Family Bible.
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Had I known I was going to have so many kids I would have written smaller. . and neater. I’ve recorded my kids birthdays, adoption days, and my oldest daughter’s wedding information.

I have no idea if it will last 150 years. Obviously I’ll be long gone. But, if it is still in possession of some Bliss descendant, it won’t matter what the current USB interface is. It won’t matter if we are still plugging devices into the wall, or we’ve mastered charging through the air, this book and this format will still work.

For some things, I still use physical media, and always will.

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