If Digital became a Dinosaur, do you have a Back-Up Plan?

When travelling from England to Australia 130 years ago loved ones would wait an excruciating 6 months to hear whether your vessel arrived safely in Australia or had been shipwrecked along the way.

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.

travel journal

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 –

  • Blogging
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Emails
  • Skype
  • Twitter…

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.

Mail Jotter

You’ve got mail 🙂


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?

GR George Rex King George V

Post Box

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?


15 thoughts on “If Digital became a Dinosaur, do you have a Back-Up Plan?

  1. Hi Linda,

    I was going to write you a letter but instant gratification is too slow for me so had to post a comment instead!

    I can’t believe Flickr did that to you. Very bad form. I remember the days of taking photos in for developing and the absolute thrill of collecting them – after a few days. I do remember one time when a film was lost but can’t imagine losing 5yrs worth. All of my photos are backed up in a few places as are my other files – but not Facebook.

    As for letters. I love receiving letters but these days the only personal letters I get are from my grandmother – she’s not on Facebook, email or Twitter and forgets to check her SMS messages 😉

    I love your maps because they are like letters. Even though a gadget geek and love my technology, I do love the feel and visual appeal of hard copy.

    Great post and good reminder to do my backups again this week.


    • I love technology too, but hand me an email or a handwritten note I know which one would make me smile!
      Thanks for the reminder about taking the photos in for developing and having to wait awhile to see them –
      Great to then get to hold those memories in your hands 🙂

    • Back-ups of the sites you have control over is now fairly painless –
      I have an external hard drive that does an auto backup each day of everything on my computer + also a cloud back up service so as I add data it gets auto saved off site.

      I photographed the post box when in Scotland last year – Its still in use 😉

  2. Love, love, love the post box photo!

    I put all my photos on a computer file and then loaded a selection up to a photo sharing site. I’ve had one computer crash that wiped out all my photos so I would be heart broken if it happened again – great reminder to shift them to the back up thing we have.
    If all these digital memories were lost forever I would be sad and I would plan to create some more 🙂

    I wrote some thank you notes (yes, by hand) not so long ago and the response I got was overwhelming… the recipients were so chuffed to receive the note saying that it showed an extra level of gratitude.. Ask me how I know they thought and felt this…. they emailed me (hee hee).

    When traveling, depending on where, then SMS and email (with photos) to keep people up to date on whereabouts and postcards gets sent to the families.

    • Yes the post box is cute, and also still in use – I photographed it last year when in Scotland!

      No excuses really these days for not having a backup as they’re cheap to augment and easy – I use an external hard drive that auto back-ups each evening, plus an off-site cloud back up service that syncs updates and additions to my computer as I make them –

      Technology is great for instantaneously keeping everyone abreast of where you are and what you’re doing – But you can’t beat something handwritten for lasting impressions 🙂

  3. Hi Linda

    Yep I love the Post Box photo – its literally the whole in the wall a reminder of times gone by !!

    When Ian and I got married (for the 2nd time) in the UK almost 5 years ago and we were travelling around and then coming back to base at his folks outside Dorchester I was so surprised that they had received a load of lovely thank you letters all most properly addressed to Commander and Mrs Berry thanking them for the wonderful day they had at our wedding – it seemed that everyone had sent one – I was quite overwhelmed and commented that this rarely happens in Aus but apparently is still very much alive in the UK – I was genuinely touched by the lovely messages that were so personal and crafted with such thought

    When travelling I have always sent back postcards from places with unique post marks – Mt Snowdon, Ayres Rock, Barrier Reef to name a couple

    Im a firm believe in back up back up back up (comes from being a financial person I guess)

    Whenever I sit down today to write something by long hand I look at my writing and wonder what happened to it – I used to have such lovely handwriting now it looks like a scrawl and it feels so foreign – my fingers type faster than my brain can think and my hand can write – another sign of the times!!

    • The post box is still in use – I photographed it last year when in Scotland!

      A bit of the person comes with a handwritten note doesn’t it?
      Which is why even postcards are special – Do you post the postcards back to yourself for the memories?

      Yes, I’m a bit of a backup fanatic – Once bitten, twice shy 😉

    • Hi Vi ~
      What I mean is…
      When using Flickr, don’t add a link back to your website under a photo if you are using Flickr as your sole means of cloud photo storage whilst on the road – ie You don’t have them saved or backed up somewhere else other than Flickr, because if someone decides to report your site as violating Flickr’s terms all of your photos will be deleted – Kaboom –
      They don’t email you and say ‘Do you realise you are contravening the rules?’ They assume you are blatantly abusing the system –
      In my case – I couldn’t understand why my Flickr account was considered to be in ‘violation’ of Flickr’s conditions as my photos were just travel photos. So I asked and I got the reply: “Don’t use Flickr for commercial purposes. Flickr is for personal use only.”
      I didn’t consider my use to be ‘commercial’ – But… I had added a link under a few photos as an extension to the photographic tale back to my website .
      That, in Flickr’s eyes is ‘commercial’ 🙂
      Does that answer your question?

        • Since my account was deleted, I’ve seen many many Flickr pages with photo after photo of products for sale (like an on-line catalogue) all with web addresses under each image –

          I think I was unlucky someone took a gripe (maybe they’d had their page deleted?) as all it takes is a quick click of the ‘Report Abuse’ link and you’re gone!

          I wondered whether they rely on creating scapegoats who then go out with a vengeance to Police their site for them?
          But it didn’t work with me ~ its not in my nature to spoil someone’s day 🙂

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