Some time back, i came across a discussion about gamers who’d successfully built a ‘hard drive’, wholly inside Minecraft. Unfamiliar though i am with the platform, i was impressed with the venture, which pushes the boundaries of what is possible within that particular environment. As achievements go, such a feat may well have little practical value, but it commands plenty of kudos from the geek community, and rightly so – it’s a remarkable application of inworld technology.
Theoretically, it’s just as feasible to create a functional hard drive in sl too, indeed it could be quite fun. The nature of digital data means that it lends itself very well to the sort of machinery that the more esoteric content creators revel in putting together… pushrods and pistons may be impractical in a real world setting, but they’re great fun in the virtual world.
There’s something very mystical about imbuing an inert object with the power of memory: to take a prim and configure it in such a way that it ‘remembers’ a bit of information – albeit in the most basic of formats – is really quite special. Knowing that you can walk away, to return some time in the perhaps distant future and your logically-bound prim will not have ‘forgotten’ that precious information may not exactly be world-shattering, but it is the basis of the modern world in so many ways. We’ve come to rely on long-term digital storage, and its cousin – the equally important, volatile RAM – for pretty much most of the things we do, and most of us can’t even imagine how our ‘ancestors’ of 70 years ago managed without them.
The storage of data for later retrieval, or to put it in a more familiar way: the capacity for memory, is of course a fundamentally human attribute, (yes, i’m well aware that animals can do it too, but let’s not complicate things!). Like computers, our memories operate according to two different principles – every day, i’m constantly absorbing information, much of which is highly important at the time, but of limited value after the event. Things like, remembering to stop at the cash point, remembering the person’s name on the other end of the phone when i pass them to a colleague, not forgetting to defrost the meat for supper tonight… all terribly important at key points, but not particularly the sort of thing i’ll need to be able to recall in 20 year’s time. These all occupy my mind’s equivalent of RAM – a repository for information that i can dip into at will, but which is constantly refreshed and cleared at a (sometimes alarming) pace.
Then there are the things that get burned onto my ‘hard disk’ – memories i want to keep, often in full HD with surround sound and commentary; plus the the wealth of miscellanea that allows me to function smoothly and without errors… birthdays, names and addresses, telephone and pin numbers, random facts essential to winning pub quizzes – all of this needs to be indexed and retained, ready for retrieval as, and when, required. Memory is a pretty remarkable thing all round.
Which brings me back to where i started… because sl, in so many ways, already functions as a rich, highly accessible and comprehensive repository of data – and memories – without us having to go to the trouble of engineering individual prims to remember ones and zeroes. It’s already doing it, and brilliantly too.
Places, events and historic facts have been committed to the ‘memory’ of sl in abundance… whether it’s 1920s Berlin, or the trenches of the Great War; the cities of Liverpool, London, Rome and New York; music venues, long lost from rl – The Twisted Wheel, The Cavern Club, The Pig & Whistle, The Haçienda; and the myriad moments and memories of countless sl residents that have been committed to the virtual form as a vibrant and constant reminder of the good times, and sometimes the sad time, of the life we live outside the computer screen.
It’s not a perfect system – sims close, builds are taken down and locations vanish, but even those archived memories are rarely lost for good… somewhere, neatly packed away in inventories across the Grid, they wait – perhaps to see the light of virtual day again, sometime in the future – memories, rekindled and brought back to life.
We are the Village Green Preservation Society.
God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety.
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society.
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties.
The Kinks – The Village Green Preservation Society