Top of page

Short Film: Digital Antiquities

Share this post:

Digital Antiquities is a 15-minute science-fiction film that considers the social impact of data recovery in the not-too-distant future.

Digital Antiquities
Still photo from "Digital Antiquities" by J.P. Chan.

Its summary states, “By 2036, data loss has become a thing of the past. All digital media is instantly uploaded to the internet and permanently stored in the cloud, safely backed-up on servers scattered around the world. Only a handful of small businesses in the world have the expertise to recover data from pre-cloud devices. On a hot summer day, a young man named Kai visits Digital Antiquities, a store in eastern Pennsylvania specializing in data recovery and sales of vintage electronics. He shows Cat, the store’s only employee, an old compact disc left to him from his deceased mother and asks her to recover its contents.”

The film is part of Futurestates and the Independent Television Service, created with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Future States is a series of short narrative films using topics from today’s complex social issues as vehicles to explore what life in America might be like in the not-too-distant future.

The film, written and directed by J.P. Chan, doesn’t draw any overt conclusions about digital preservation but its cluttered, Bladerunner-ish appearance makes a visual point about obsolescence and how today’s technology is tomorrow’s junk. The human drama of data loss is always in the background though. As Cat, the film’s professional data recoverer, said, “My customers…they come to me with these old memory cards and hard drives and hope I can recover the past for them.”

“Digital Antiquities” is an entertaining vehicle for raising public awareness about digital preservation. If you would like to contact Mr. Chan, email [email protected].


  1. Thanks for the mention!

    I’m eager to collaborate with digital preservation groups to help get the word out about this film and raise awareness of the issues around data loss.

    If you’d like to arrange a screening of this film for your group and/or host a Q&A with myself in person or via video, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

    Thank you for all the good work you’re doing in this important field.

    JP Chan

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.