Bill Laux and the Mysterious Floppy Disks
In spite of my wife’s courageous leap into the world of information technology, she has remained very critical of the many shortcomings of the new tools that our digital era has forced upon us. Would the archeologists a thousand years from now, so she often raises the question, ever be able to find out what lies hidden underneath the shiny layer of a CD or DVD disk. They might claim that the 21st century inhabitants had regressed to a form of sun worship, as it was practiced in ancient civilizations. Those glittering round objects could have been used to invoke the sun to provide more light for the planet darkened by pollution and nuclear fall-out. Having turned mellow after half a century of exposure to marital bliss, I found enough room in my heart to admit, although somewhat reluctantly, that my wife had raised a very important question whose relevance will become evident in the light of my own experiences with outdated technology.
If you had read my previous posts on Bill Laux, the eccentric artist, who built his own castle at the shore of the Lower Arrow Lake, you would know that he was not only famous for his works in batik, but was also known as a writer and researcher of the early mining, logging, and transportation industries in the Pacific Northwest. When he passed away in December 2004, he bequeathed his entire collection of pictures, books, manuscripts, journals and sundry documents to the Fauquier Communication Center. There his work has found a permanent home and is waiting to be explored, evaluated and hopefully published on the Internet.
What really piqued my curiosity, were scores of floppy disks stashed away on the side shelves of the computer room of the Fauquier Communication Center. Their content had remained a deep mystery until very recently. On next week’s post I will share with you the immense difficulties I experienced in decoding the information from a storage device barely a quarter century old. What I found was a veritable treasure trove of Bill’s work, which would have been lost forever on the junk pile of modern civilization. Stay tuned.