Technology and Its Discontents

My terrifying nightmare about segmented file transfer on floppy disks

Last night I had a dream that man in a mask like the one in Zardoz ordered me to retrieve the data from a mysterious computer kept deep in a lightless cavern. The computer is connected via RF modulator to a CRT television set tuned to channel 3. The hard drive, if you want to call it that, consists of two massive bays where removable cartridges about the size of a stack of copy paper are inserted. The keyboard is a loud, clacky one with mechanical switches. There is no mouse.

In order to power the computer up, a small demon with stunted wings works a pedal generator. He must be fed a diet of turpentine and raw meat as a sort of thermogenic fuel and then he gets to work, pedaling like mad. The man in the Zardoz mask explains that, naturally, the computer is not connected to a network and that I am not allowed to remove the large cartridges from the drive bays. He then hands me a carton of 3.5” floppy disks, a flask of turpentine and a mid-sized bundle wrapped in butcher paper and oozing a reddish fluid.

I shudder because I know now that he means for me to segment the data and manually copy the segments onto the floppy disks, and that to reduce the chances of copying to a bum floppy, I will have to do it twice. He laughs—an evil, guttural laugh.

And then I wake up.