Around Prince William: from analogue to digital and vice versa | Opinion

I bought my first laptop in 1997 and my first digital camera in 1999, and joined Facebook in 2007. Over the years, I’ve started an AOL blog, several Google blogs, and a Network Solutions website. I also joined Twitter, Instagram and several other social media. Little did I know that I was going from an analog recording of my life to a digital recording.

I realized this when I collected five boxes of my 35mm photographs, negatives and slides dating back to 1960. It was then that I bought my first film camera and I began to document my life in pictures. I imagine anyone looking at these photos will assume that I died when the photos ended in 1999.

As I sorted through the boxes, I wondered what would happen to my digital world. My photos, my chronicles, my digital diary and many more are stored in Apple’s iCloud. I found that Apple also thought about the future of my digital life and recently implemented a process to pass on your iCloud by naming a legacy contact. Apple also has a process for deleting your iCloud account.

Facebook has also addressed this issue. It allows you to name a legacy contact to commemorate and care for your account. Facebook also has a process for deleting your account. Since I don’t really care about Twitter, I’ll give up.

Nothing is safe on the web. I’ve had a business and technology blog on AOL for years. In 2008, AOL abruptly decided to stop supporting blogs to cut costs and announced that we had 30 days to save our work. I lost many years of content and I suspect that other platforms providing free blogs might eventually make the same decision. Content from my eight blogs on Google may one day join my AOL content in the ether.

I recently started using my favorite fountain pen, a Parker Big Red, and a Moleskine journal to record my life in paper and ink. It’s very satisfying. I also bought a used film camera on eBay, a Kodak Pony, and ordered a bunch of black and white film. The Kodak Pony was my first “serious” camera.

Digital cameras allow you to take as many pictures as you want of a subject. You can choose the best later. Cinematic cameras are a different experience. You have 36 chances to get a good picture. My pen and journal don’t have a cut, paste, or delete option. Analog tools make you think.

Those born in the digital age have no analog record of their lives. Maybe that’s OK. Just as we all die, their digital legacy will slowly decay until it is no more.

This is my 150th column for insideNoVa. It’s about six years of writing about things that have caught my attention. At around 600 words per column, that’s around 90,000 words. Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” has about 68,000. While I know the comparison is overstated, I like to think of my chronicles as my “novel.”

Some of my past columns have been popular, some have been hated, and some may not have been my best work. “Snakes must have sucked your brains out” remains my favorite comment. It’s the passion of something I wrote.

There are still a few columns to write. My chronicles in all their forms are perhaps my best chance to maintain a fairly broad overview of my digital life. I’ll let those interested enough to stumble across my columns in the future draw their own conclusions. After I leave, look at me from time to time.

Al Alborn is an award-winning columnist and member of the Virginia Press Association. His column appears every two weeks. You can find out more about Al at and LinkedIn.

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