Our Digital Heritage by Curt Cool/Depth
The demoscene has been producing multimedia productions since the mid-eighties, starting off with some crackintros on the good old breadbox, the C64, on which there still is a very active demoscene. "Jeez, how did time pass so fast?", the old skool scener asks. Or, to put it in other words, people have been doing this for 20+ years, which have resulted in thousands of demos, pieces of music, pictures, diskmags and various other kinds of productions.
With all the emulators available, everyone are able to watch the old demos and play the old games, even if they don't own the original platform, and, more importantly, with the internet, plenty of nostalgic old-school websites featuring old demos, modules and games are available for your viewing, listening and gaming pleasure. This is of course a good thing, since floppy disks, harddrives, tapes and CD-roms do not last forever, and no doubt, many productions, modules, pictures and - perhaps - games, are already lost on the eternal fields of mismatched zeroes and ones. It's sad but true - but it's been 20 years.
Now we come to the reason for writing this article - and to put it in few words:
"Together, we are strong!"
As some of you may know, yours truly is also quite heavily involved in the creation of AMP - Amiga Music Preservation - a website which contains over 90000 modules, mainly from the Amiga scene. But we are not the only module site, just as there are plenty of other sites which to some degree or other tries to preserve demos, games and modules from the scenes of the 80s and 90s, perhaps focusing on one specific platform, perhaps not. And of course, like everything in the demoscene, the people behind them are doing this "job" in their spare time, our of love for the old productions and computers which have no doubt grown to become part of their own personal histories.
What I propose is, that we join forces. Sure, our sites may have their differences, we may have different ambitions with them, different ideas, different methods, of which some will deteriorate as more people are involved, sites are perhaps joined together etcetera. But to maintain a site of the size required to truly archive everything of a particular kind released on a specific platform, plenty of manhours are needed: Someone has to copy the productions, maybe from old floppies, and then there's all the sorting and the information which has to be extracted from the productions in order for the archive to be easy to search for the user, and then there's the actual webdesign, which is quite a job as well.
But how can we, the nostalgics, help eachother? No doubt, everyone involved in this has a network of old sceners of which all of them have not necessarily given their collection of demos/music/etc to the archive suitable for these productions, and so, we could help eachother with getting hold of some rare files. We could also help eachother regarding information about sceners and productions, as well as perhaps even making changes to the information available on our site.
But how can we organize this? Most importantly, a portal with links to various demoscene archives would have to be made - I propose the name "Digital Heritage Preservation", but if someone can come up with something more flashy, I'm all ears. On this site, there should also be a couple of mailinglists - a main mailinglist for all the interested people, and various sub- mailinglists for specific areas and platforms. Also, I guess that the people collecting vintage computers also fit into this in some way - after all, we may need their hardware in order to copy the disks. The benefit of this would of course be that like-minded people would be able to share the vast amounts of information they have gathered over the years and thereby help eachother with mapping out the movements of specific sceners and groups over the years. Also, it would be possible to have "offices" of DHP in most countries in order to spread the nostalgia net in which the rare files are gathered up to as many countries as possible. Some people might even put adverts in the free-advert newspapers in their respective countries, looking for old sceners. Given that the organization would be covering all the various retro archives, it would probably be possible to ask for support on major IT newssites like Slashdot etc., which would probably stir up some old sceners as well. And, as a last benefit, it might be worth a try to apply for funds from the European Union or local ministries of culture, the demoscene being mostly a European phenomenon - and I guess you need to be an organization of a certain size in order to do that.
Now, I don't have neither the time nor the webdesign skills, server access and legal knowledge on how to make all of this happen, but it seems to me that we are in a hurry - demos are dying every day, so to speak. So if anybody is interested in helping me by setting up the technical aspects - I can put up a mailinglist myself somewhere, but the site itself is pretty important - please write to me. I will try to get this article published in as many diskmagazines as possible, and hopefully I will get some responses.
I can be found at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ps. And who knows, this stirring up could result in some people even rejoining the scene!Curt Cool/Depth