Like most days, today’s e-mail contained not less than 50 spams, with subject headings indicating the usual get-rich-quick schemes, Viagra availability, putative photos of "hot barnyard action," and seemingly prescient advice about my hair loss problem. I’d be hard pressed to provide a more detailed inventory of these e-mails because, per usual, I deleted them all immediately. But I was thinking: even if I hadn’t put today’s spam into the trash – even if I had intentionally archived these unsolicited texts on some form of optical or magnetic storage medium – in 30 or 40 years I’d probably still be unable to tell you their contents. By then, the hardware and software needed to retrieve the data would most likely be obsolete, and the media itself would probably have deteriorated to the point of failure, since as yet there is no digital storage medium that is anything like "archival." These are problems with digital media that many people have been putting off thinking about. In the visual arts they are called preservation issues – ones that museum curators and conservators are less at liberty to put off thinking about. Not that "barnyard action" constitutes such an urgent preservation issue (although in 30 or 40 years it is sure to be of historical and anthropological interest). Rather, it’s useful to consider spam’s inherently transient nature, and its place along a continuum of more or less durable text-based media artifacts. At least it’s useful to me, since I’ve been traveling around Europe photographing and thinking about some of the world’s oldest media artifacts, located at the opposite extreme of that continuum.