A group of Hilton Head residents hopes to preserve the island's memories, hopes and ideas in 2013 by recording them onto digital SD memory cards and burying them underground in a 20-year time capsule.
But devices become outdated quickly, as Councilman George Williams noted Tuesday during a presentation to Town Council.
"How can you ensure ... a piece of equipment 20 years from now can read an SD card?" he asked event organizer Heather Rath.
She responded that even today, "you can find somewhere to read an eight-track (cassette)."
"Yeah," Williams said, "... in my closet."
Rath said several different kinds of SD readers will be placed in the capsule to be buried near the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, so excavating closets won't be necessary.
The capsule will be buried near the end of the year, on a date to be determined. In the interim, a week-long festival Sept. 30 to Oct. 5 will commemorate the 350th anniversary of the island's sighting by Capt. William Hilton and the 30th birthday of the town's incorporation.
Rath said all island residents, groups and businesses are encouraged to submit letters, photos, drawings, videos and anything else that could be stored digitally. The capsule will be filled with SD cards, which are about the size of a stamp. The capsule can hold thousands of submissions, she said.
Entries can be submitted online through a form at www.celebrationhhi.org/time-capsule. Contributors upload digital files of their items onto the site, and event organizers will transfer them to SD cards.
"If you want to be part of the time capsule, you get to be part of it," Rath said, adding that she and her husband plan to include a letter to their 2-year-old son, Gray, and a family photo.
Rath said she hopes businesses will send photos of their staff; presidents of property-owners associations will write letters about their neighborhoods; and longtime public servants will write about their town.
The capsule also will include a few non-digitized items. Among them, Rath said, will be a letter from Ben Racusin, the town's first mayor, and its current mayor, Drew Laughlin; photos of the first and current town councils; a sweetgrass basket; 350/30 event materials; maps; and other historical data.
The capsule will be excavated on the town's 50th anniversary of incorporation. Rath said it is important for the town to celebrate its milestones and reflect on how Hilton Head has changed and what still makes the island special for its residents.
"We all moved here and live here for a reason, and we need to remember those reasons," she said.
Laughlin said Thursday that at the rate technology has been changing, it is "hard to imagine what things would be like in 20 years.
"But I would certainly hope that the core of what makes Hilton Head, Hilton Head remains: ... that we can say we've taken care of our investments, our natural resources, our waterways; that we've maintained a certain standard and aesthetic; and that it's not been overbuilt."
The cost of the capsule burial, to be paid by 350/30 sponsors Hilton Head Hospital, Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Coligny Plaza, is still being determined, Rath said.
Rath said the capsule's exact GPS coordinates will be shared among the Coastal Discovery Museum, the town and event organizers.
She said the three most important things other communities have told her about organizing time capsule projects are: "Remember where you put it. Remember where you put it. Remember where you put it."
Rath said she will.
Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian.