When dealing with physical space, we choose to see some objects as having more value than others. In most instances, this is a logical relationship to share with our intimate possessions; a vase for example is a highly irrelevant object unless aged for 700 years and given a funny-sounding title. However, our interactions with online spaces serve as a direct counterpoint to our physical and sentimental attachments, as we rarely feel the need to preserve digital memory unless it serves a purpose.
In some aspects, I understand why this flippant treatment of the digital realm occurs. While a house is an object which will physically stand for a specific period of time, a humorous YouTube video only takes form when we demand it to, and therefore cannot request the same connotations of time, space and worth. However, as the Internet becomes a more integral part of our lives and the functionality of society, I believe it should demand at least some aspect of cultural heritage where appropriate.
Future generations will likely want to experience how the structure of digital media has changed over time, just as in the physical world we wish to experience how previous civilisations functioned and responded to change in their times. While information regarding a program such as Napster or any website layout prior to web 2.0 is easy to obtain in written form, actually trying to gain any of those examples in their original digital arrangement is significantly harder.
Given that these digital objects are a little over 15 years old (significantly younger than my desk, or the vintage ‘playboy’ sitting on my desk) and already fairly scarce to find, one can assume that in a few hundred years, practically nothing of their existence will be available for reference, besides written word. This is shame really, as it is so easy to store information in its digital form, yet important aspects of our digital history are destroyed on a daily basis, because they serve no purpose.
Ultimately, because digital technologies are so young, they are not yet seen as an important aspect of our culture to be conserved. Also, because progress and changes occur so quickly when regarding digital media, it is easy to regard any digital space as being disposable. Although it is with much joy that i contemplate the fate of MySpace, as it inevitably surrenders its last ounce of usefulness and is forced to sell its domain name to one of those ad sites, I also understand the necessity of this destructive process in the current online business model. I just pray that the same fate is not suffered by websites I actually enjoy.