Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blog post: Digital Information 250 Years From Now

Thanks to David Kemper for finding this post by Josh Catone that discusses the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration's take on digital archiving. Why should they be archiving government web sites when the agencies should be doing it themselves? (mmm...if they are doing it...) These words from Catone stood out to me:
About 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library of 6,000 books to the Library of Congress. About 150 years ago, more than half were destroyed in a fire. But today, all 6,000 of them have been recovered or recreated and will go on display at the LoC. Now we're living in the so-called information age, where almost a gigabyte of new data is being created each year for every man, woman, and child on earth. But what's going to happen it to it all 250 years from now? "Is digital content too ephemeral to last?" wondered Leland Rucker. Will digital information have the same lifespan as printed books?
In workshops, I ask people to think 5- 10 years into the future, because we generally can get out heads around that time span. I can imagine people becoming blurry eyed at the idea of being responsible for content lasting 100+ years. Isn't that someone else's job?

By the way, I've mentioned before an episode of Stargate SG-1 where the civilization found it was relying on flawed digital files. That could be our future.

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