Passage by sailing clipper between England and Australia was about a 90 day one-way journey so your letter home to say “We’ve landed” would be another 90 days sea-mail aboard the next returning ship.
Today, we flit from one side of the globe to the other in 24 hours, at the end of which we pick up the phone and say
“Hi there – we’re here!”
When I first arrived in Australia 25 years ago international phone calls were exorbitantly expensive, and email didn’t exist so I relied on writing letters to keep those back home abreast of my far away antics.
Today travellers have so many instantaneous means to communicate with family and friends –
Letters have become dinosaurs.
Letters are long gone, but only long gone in their composition.
The pages of letters I wrote home all those years ago recording in intricate detail my adventures, are still available to be read. The bundled pile is kept bound with string and when delving into them I love the charm of each chapter being neatly segmented in an envelope with evocative Australian stamps, postmarked for posterity with the date.
Today, like you I suspect if you’re reading this, I utilize many of the social media sites available to keep abreast of who is where and what has happened to them on their travels – I read their status updates on Facebook, 140 character tweets on Twitter, look at their photos on Flickr, read their blogs on blogging platforms, and enjoy their journaling sites that offer space to write journal entries, upload holiday travel photos & plot on a map where in the world they are to visually illustrate their taken route.
They’re such easy and convenient mediums to use and offer instant pleasure to one and all.
Do you use any of these on-line sites?
If so… I hope all your wonderful memories are also stored somewhere else for longevity.
All sites that offer these platforms so graciously for free (or in some cases a small fee) are just a platform on loan to us, and any one of them could disappear tomorrow, with all your uploaded memories. The medium in this case is not the message. They don’t belong to us and we have no control over their future.
Your memories can also be deleted at any time, without warning and at their discretion should you (inadvertently) not abide by your platform provider’s rules –
I recently had 5 years of photos deleted from Flickr for posting a link to my website that I perceived as elaborating on a photograph’s story but which Flickr classified as ‘commercial’ – Without so much as a ‘Tut tut, do that again and you’ll be in for it’ all my Flickr widgets suddenly said I no longer existed. 🙁
As I know many rely on Flickr for photo storage whilst on the road – To those I say –
- Don’t add any links 😉 and
- Back-up those travel holiday memories somewhere else as well 😀
I even wonder about a blog on one’s own host, such as this site, when it comes to the long-term preservation of memories? Technology is evolving so fast will today’s sites, if left in mothballs for 20 years, will it still be readable in future browsers? Considering we’ve gone from cassette tapes… to CDs… to mp3 players in a generation, digital information is surely in for some radical changes over the course of the next generation?
Today, we live in a world of instant gratification, where our virtual on-line space offers instantaneous enjoyment for sharing and collaborating in the here and now. But for the enjoyment of those travel memories in years to come when the ‘ole travelling boots are gathering dust from being hung by their laces, as opposed to kicking it on some far flung road, consider a few non digital mediums as well, so as not to have all your fossilised eggs in the one basket.
Just as there’s a ‘Slow Movement’ infiltrating food ~ slow food (a backlash against fast food), and slow travel (enjoying the scenery rather than the passing clouds out of an aeroplane window), why not slow memories, where you take the time to be in the moment to really notice them whilst investing in their future?
Maybe it does take a little longer to write that letter home by hand and go on an (educational) trip to the Post Office to post it (selecting pretty local stamps to add to the postmarked memory)…
But taking time away from tapping into the void of the Ethernet to feel instead the paper beneath your pen whilst far away in a foreign land is paper that when held and touched in years to come will span the ages and act as a bridge connecting you physically as well as mentally to those marvellous moments that are now treasured travel memories.
Holding a handwritten item you wrote in some faraway place is a tangible memory – a memory no blog or social media platform can replicate in its virtual reality.
How do you stay connected when on the road?
And more to the point…
how do you preserve your memories for the future?
If your digital memories became a dinosaur…
What is your back-up plan?