Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Great Cassette Purge – Lessons on Moving Your Media Forward

Here’s the scenario: 90+ cassettes of music from 1987-2001 that contain music I wrote, both instrumentals and songs with friends singing, 1 failing Nakamichi BX-2 tape deck (reverse doesn’t work), and angst that if I don’t capture what’s on those cassettes now it will get harder and harder. Sound familiar? Old media that you put off doing anything with.

We’ll I buckled down and hooked up the tape deck into the back of the computer and just started recording (using Sound Recorder in Windows Vista). I ended up with 50+ tapes ripped. The rest, I determined where not important. Sometimes I stopped and started the Sound Recorder and captured (to .wma) individual songs and sometimes I just recorded a whole side of the cassette as one digital file leaving it for a later project to extract out individual pieces.

The Sound Recorder tool in Vista and a generic audio card was fine for this project because the quality of the tapes was not really that good to start with.

The conversion took about 3 weeks. Now I’m storing the box of remaining cassettes for 1 month and if I haven’t gone back to it, out it goes. And the tape deck is going to Goodwill.

So what are my ruminations on moving your personal media (assets like images, documents, music, etc.) forward to live to see another day? They include two categories:

Lessons learned for the creation of media now that someday you might need to convert

  • Create less to begin with. Note the pain you are experiencing during the conversion and let it guide what you create now that you’ll be wrestling with in the future.
  • Label and date as you go along. It’s frustrating to try to make a decision later, perhaps years later, on something as whether to save or toss it if there is no date or context.
  • Keep your media organized, you’ll thank yourself later. This includes items already on the computer too. Use well defined folders and names.

Lessons learned during the conversion

  • Convert media when the time is right. It’s okay to hang on to some personal media/artifacts for a while until you find the right format to convert it into.
  • Consider if you really need what you are converting. Are you really going to miss it? Can you buy it again? Maybe the cost of buying it is less than your time to convert it?
  • Sometimes, taking a picture of all the items together as a keepsake is as effective as converting it over and having it sit around in a new format, never to be used. I think that sometimes people just want to remember what it is they had, but they don’t want to use it or play it.
  • Consider scanning (with a scanner) objects that may not seem so obvious to scan. In this cassette-conversion project I scanned the cassette inserts (or the whole cassette if it didn’t have an insert) because what I wrote on the inserts or directly on the cassettes is how I visually remember the tapes. The color of the cassettes without inserts is important to my memory of them. Fortunately, this translates well to the computer because say in Windows you can name your scanned item “Folder.jpg” and then when viewing your folder, the scanned images becomes the folder’s icon, almost like a virtual cassette.
  • Keep notes on how you are doing the conversion. You may stop and pick it up later and the notes will be indispensable.
  • Consider keeping notes on what you don’t archive as well which could be just as interesting.
  • Don’t, if you can help it, skimp on storage. Storage always gets cheaper so don’t make some decision during conversion time to save a little space if it means a huge compromise in the quality or how you’ll enjoy the media later.

1 comment:

  1. my photos are a disastor. i need to re-org them. i do very few vids, but they're a mess too. i usually just dump a download into a folder and name it something. but then i keep ALL the photos even if they suck or are blurred... which is totally stupid. i need to download photos...then go thru and delete ones i don't want forever, then lable the photo and stick it in a directory. but do i do that? noooooooooooo.


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