Sometimes, when you’re an archivist of my stripe, your tools don’t just include computers – sometimes they include something like this:
And really, you better have a truck when you drive down to the local post office with your “fuck if we’re going to deliver this” yellow slip and come up against this waiting pile:
You see, not all the history is downloadable, not all of it comes on hard drives or in a small package. Sometimes, it comes in a very large pack indeed.
So, what’s in this major haul of boxes? Well, it’s going to be pretty easy to explain and perhaps somewhat difficult to hear me out.
A while ago, Randal Schwartz of Perl fame announced that he was leaving his current home of many years and setting off on a new life, and along the way he would be discarding a lot of his old material to lighten himself up. So out would go the trappings, to the dump or friends who were buying things, and then he’d be all set for a different way of living. Along the way, he took a photo and said “look at all this stuff” in his twitter stream. Another person, Daniel Packer, suggested that I be contacted. Things being what they are, discussing contacting me in a public space immediately contacts me, so I hopped in and offered to pay postage.
And that is how I ended up with 22 years of computer conference T-shirts.
So, I guess for a certain segment of the population, the news of this is sufficient, but to another, perhaps larger segment, the question is why the fuck do you want someone’s laundry?
Well, let me first say that the vast majority of these shirts, possibly all of them, have never been worn. They were given as prizes or gifts because he’s Randal Schwartz and Perl is Cool and so Randal got them for free. So get your nose out of the gutter.
But what attracts me to this is that these are an easily collectable slice of computer history and cultural context. The shirts are printed for all sorts of reasons, and provided with all sets of expectations and goals. The collection, as it is, gives you a glimpse of the last 20 years of computing that later times might really want. It is going to be relatively trivial to photograph these, list them, package them up, and then have them available for the future.
So here’s some off the cuff shots of these shirts. I don’t have time at this moment to really catalog them all, but maybe you can see where I’m going.
The hardest part is done – these shirts have been rescued from recycling and disappearing. Now we’ll see what comes of this.
Thanks, Dan and Randal.
Categorised as: computer history
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