About 3 years ago I went through a transformation. I discovered that there was a ton of music that I wanted to listen to. I never was much for the Napster craze, so I actually went out and bought a bunch of CDs. I just counted, and I have about 100 of them.
Although I have a pretty nice AV system, it's down in the “entertainment room” (basement). It's nice enough to go down there and listen to things every once in a while, but I find that I want to listen to music everywhere in the house. So, of course I'm archiving all those CDs to my hard disk. I went out to Fry's and bought a 160Gb drive. So far, my music takes up about 4Gb. Not much to speak of so far. Maybe that will expand to about 10Gb.
I struggled mightily about what format to save the music in. As raw PCM data, CDs are roughly .5Gb per disk, depending. So, my library of 100 disks would be roughly 50Gb of data. Maybe that would be an ok thing. The data would be stored in raw form, and I could always recompress to whatever format was appropriate depending on however else I intended to use it. Maybe I'll go through the whole process again, but for now, I'm using Windows Media Player 9 to do my archiving. I chose to store the files in .wma format at 160kbit. This gives a good enough sound reproduction for my purposes, and a better compression ration than equivalent .mp3.
Oh yah, I bought a nicer DVD player recently. It's this panasonic 5 disk changer that will play just about anything from VCD to .mp3 and most importantly .wma. And yah, it does DVDs as well.
At any rate, I'm busy archiving all of my audio files. After that, I'm going to archive all of my DVDs. I have about 40 of those. Each DVD can take up 4.5 to 9 Gb on a disk (in the raw). With my new disk, I can probably store all of my DVDs, but I won't have room for much else. Of course, if I want to compress them, I can get them down to about .5Gb per movie. Then they'd only take up 20Gb. Even if I double their space, which would make them pretty respectable, it would only take up 40Gb. So, that's 10Gb for my audio, and 40 Gb for my videos. 50Gb total.
OK, I have another 10 or so VHS tapes. That ought to be good for a few Gb, let's call it 60Gb total. Now I'm down to only 100Gb available.
Right now I'm watching some Stargate SG-1. Maybe I could record that every week for a while, and maybe I could even download all the NPR shows that I listen to, and then there's the digital camera. At 256Mb per trip out in the wild, that adds up to a bit much, then the digital video from the other camera, and... well, surely I can fill this 160Gb disk in a year or so. I could probably fill another one every couple of years after that. By the time I'm up to a terabyte, I'm sure I'll be able to plug one of those into my machine and keep on filling.
I'm exhausted just thinking about it. The question that nags me most though is this: How am I going to find anything in all that data? I mean, most of the stuff is going to be loaded into Media Player's library. Of course Microsoft software is good, but I don't know how much testing we've done with much data. Media Player is pretty decent with the amount of data that I have in there right now. It has playlists, genre lists, album lists, artist lists, recently played lists, most played lists, and just about any way you want to find anything through a list interface. Then there's the search, if that's all not good enough.
With all that, I'm not sure I'll be able to find that song where they say “jump to the rhythm jump jump to the rhythm jump“. As I get older, I won't be able to remember these sorts of things. And what about that video where all those balloons flew up in the air and the kids spun around and fell down? And what was that song playing during that commercial for the new Honda?
Interesting. Where is all that data coming from? Well, there's MPEG 7, and it's an XML Format, and there can be lots of interesting data in there. I'm sure it will become the broadcast format once HDTV gets into full swing, or at least there will be lots of archived video that will have MPEG7 streams to go with them.
Will there be a new search mechanism to go with it? Is XQuery good enough? Are XPaths something that I will cozy up to while I'm doing my searches? Will my mother want to use this? How about natural language? With that be up to the task? Will it work internationally? These questions keep me up at night. How am I going to find my stuff, once I've found a place for it?
Maybe this has to do with “Trustworthy Computing“. Perhaps my machine will build a personal profile on me over time and know better what I'm trying to find than I do myself.
So, I'll keep archiving all of my stuff, and keep putting all of my images on the machine. As my disk is filling up, I'll think about how the heck I'm going to find my stuff later, and then I'll go back to work and start thinking about how I'm going to help everyone else do that in the future as well.