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Why Computers Make Terrible Historians

June 7, 2022

I got to bless my granddaughter on Sunday. It’s like a christening. She’s just a few months old. And the actual ceremony is where she is presented before God and the church and given a name and a blessing.

It’s a very humbling responsibility. (The parents still get to pick the name. They just told me what they wanted her named.)

With 13 children and 11 grandchildren, there have been plenty of baby blessings. And there have been a lot of baptisms. (They happen at about eight years old in our faith.) There have been marriages. A few deaths. Priesthood ordinations. Missions served. There have been a lot of special family events.

I record them. I literally have a family Bible that I write them down in. It’s flyleafs are covered with names and dates and locations.

I was thinking about records this weekend. Of course, I needed to record her name. And the event. And the date. And I also recorded who her parents were and where the blessing occurred.

And then I thought, when is recording information about an event too much?

I work with computers. I have for years. Computers are good at storing data. They are terrible at figuring out what is valuable data. They just save it all.

Is it important to know who else stood in the circle and helped bless my granddaughter? What about the family that was there to support her? What about the time of the blessing?

And then I thought of the information that could be recorded but was clearly immaterial. What color tie I was wearing. Where we stood in the church. At what point during the blessing she started wailing because she was tired of being the center of attention? The color of the drapes in the chapel.

There’s literally an unlimited amount of different things I could record.

Have you ever been to a cemetery and seen a gravestone that just has a year of death, but not the day or month?

We value information on a spectrum. At one end is the vital information. At the other end is trivia that is pointless. The information we value falls somewhere in between.

So, my granddaughter’s name went into the Bible. Actually, her birth was already there. But, her blessing date and place went in next to it.

Perhaps it will never be valuable to anyone except me. But, if it’s only me, that’s enough.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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