Once upon a time, way back when I first started subbing news stories, the incoming press releases arrived every day in the mail. There were piles of them: reams of A4 paper all carefully typed out and presented, although sadly the quality of the content often failed to match the quantity.
So much so that a frustrated editor, before my time, once declared memorably that: ‘Often the only part of a press release I can use is the paper clip.’
Stories were subbed by hand using a real pen or pencil and then sent off to be typeset and literally cut and pasted.
How exciting it was then when this small avalanche of paper was transformed into a flood of digital files – even easier to cut and paste – and the delivery system changed from the mail to email.
For a while, too, the ubiquitous CD was the favoured carrier of news and information; in place of paper, silver disks piled up on desks like leaves in a gutter. And then, almost overnight, the CD gave way to the flash drive.
I don’t know how many USB drives I’ve acquired, lost, borrowed or given away. More than I can remember. That’s not unusual these days when so much tech-stuff has been commoditised. When they first appeared though, the ‘free’ flash drive was worth hanging on to because they weren’t cheap, especially the larger capacity ones (which meant anything over about 1Gb).
Now they just rattle around in drawers and lie hidden at the bottom of bags. The unasked question – probably because there is no answer – is what to do with them all? After all, although it can be reused, the flash drive – unlike paper – is impossible to recycle (although I did discover this). These memories are forever.