Code as Generational Wealth

Planting trees that I'll probably never see

All of Good Graphics was uploaded to this here flash drive. Pictures of Prints. Videos of Plotter Prints. SVGs, PNGs, and JPEGs of Graphics. Code for Graphics. Code for the Good Graphics Monorepo. All of it.

Why? Because of Octavia Butler.

While reading Black Futures, a piece mentioned that Butler was an avid archivist but I did not understand the vastness until I dug a little myself. According to The Huntington Library1 :

After Butler’s death, The Huntington became the recipient of her papers, which arrived in 2008 in two file cabinets and 35 large cartons, comprising more than 8,000 items. By the time the collection had been processed and catalogued, scholars were already clamoring for access. In the past two years, the Octavia E. Butler archive has been used nearly 1,300 times—or roughly 15 times per week—making it one of the most actively researched archives at The Huntington.

Often when we think of generational wealth in the US in monetary forms. But this is a different type of wealth being passed on. Black people have always passed on information and ways of surviving and celebrating and this archive feels in conversation with that. A passing along of things that might not be universally applicable like money or land, but can sustain and empower the next generation and the ones after that. A way of saying “I was here. I survived. And maybe what I learned can help you too”.

So why the flash drive? Because I’m building my own type of archive/generational wealth. Capturing my artistic practice just in case it helps even one person in the future. Software and Digital Archival is hard and I think Matt Desl captures why in his Subscrapes post2:

Although a computer program drives this kind of work … the computational aspect can be difficult to archive and display. In many cases, the software and code is lost to history, perhaps because it eventually goes offline, or becomes obsolete with the advent of new technology.

So I don’t know if Github will always be around to access my code other backups. The same goes for Dropbox and the files there. I don’t know if Javascript will still be used in the future. Or even if Web Browsers will still be a thing. Heck, I don’t even know if we will even have computers in the future. But just in case, I’m going to try and capture as much as my work as possible just incase someone ends up reading it in the future.

And if I don’t have kids to pass this down to, I hear libraries are a good place to donate archives.

-mello

P.S. - No I’m not saying I’m the Octavia Butler of creative coding. But how cool would it be if that person stumbled upon my shitty code and it helped them in some way?