This morning I'm going to invent a new concept, namely TV archaeology. In the past, video and TV shows were held on tape within libraries; many of these are poorly indexed and much of the content has been discarded or recycled.
TV, as I have noted before, is an ephemeral medium; a schedule is prepared weekly, the content is encoded for the week and then discarded, with a master placed in the vaults.
Not a very different picture to public records or, indeed, anything else held in archives, those closely guarded repositories of our past.
But now things have changed. Every week I watch hundreds of hours of high quality, high resolution content being uploaded to the Narrowstep network; at the other end of the market every wedding video, baby shot and ‘isn’t my pet cute?’ video is being uploaded to Gootube (as I will now call the merged YouTube and Google Video) and similar services.
This provides a data wake, we are laying down bits and bites that can be tracked in the future by tools we haven’t dreamed about yet.
In the very near future you will be able to ‘excavate’ the digital video past with search tools; then you will be able to trace relationships between content items; no family tree in 2050 will be without a video archive of grandparents and parents, if not great-grandparents (although a generation now seems to have extended from 20 to 40 years..).
We don’t know the implications yet of storing all this data; but in the past, society has always prized its libraries and archives as a core repository of knowledge and culture.