One angry old man against the world
The NET seems to be changing. Not long ago there were many sites warning you to think about what you were putting on the NET because “it would be there forever.” The general assumption now is that any ‘data’ on the NET has an average life of about 2 years.
Big surprise! Especially to those of us who thought we could leave something of ourselves behind, (me included.) But when you think about, it does make sense: Hard drives fail, servers go down, data gets ‘lost’, viruses wipe data, sometimes data is wiped ‘by accident’, sometimes on purpose (if you cease paying), or if a site is ‘no longer maintained’, sometimes a vindictive person (with the right skills,) or a Government will take a site ‘down’, if he or they don’t like what the owner says, so none of it is really that permanent. It’s a great shame that this enormous store of collective knowledge is so vulnerable.
I read an article recently about a woman doing a science PHD who was corresponding with an old professor (the leader in his field,) for her research (I cant remember the subject,) and the old guy died. (She didn’t discover the following until well after the event.)
His family tried to get someone or some ‘body’ to take all his ‘data’ (most of it on hundreds of 3.5” floppies,) but no one wanted to know, (no money in it I guess.) I realise that transferring all that data (his life’s work,) would take some time, but forcing the family to ‘dump’ all that ‘information’ seems to me to be a momentous loss to science. And this must be taking place again and again, because of changing technology: A 3.5 inch disk-drives is a rarity on modern Computers, although some of us ‘old-‘ens’ remember 5.25 inch floppies and I wonder how many ‘out there’ remember 8 inch floppies, or tape drives?
There are a few ‘enlightened’ individuals who are trying to set-up ‘archives’ to store such valuable information, but you would think that some ‘large’ body could be set-up specifically for that purpose! (How about using one of the massive ‘server farms’ that the NSA is building for something worthwhile?)
Ancient civilizations we know about because they stored their information in a form that lasted for thousands of years, and before you say that disk-drives, pen-drives, DVD’s, etc., last forever; THEY DON’T! I have DVD’s that are only 6 years old, that are already becoming corrupted, some with 10-20% end disk corruption, some 50% and a few totally corrupted.(These are stored in plastic boxes, on shelves, in a dry bedroom.) Modern technology is all part of the ‘planned obsolescence’ of greedy big business, so any of our history in that form will not survive.
I watched a documentary called ‘life after people’ about how long the visible signs (structures) would survive if we all disappeared overnight, its amazing just how quickly ‘nature’ would reclaim everything. In a few hundred years, pretty much most of the signs of our existence would have gone forever, very humbling.
Maybe advances in technology will bring a form of storage that will last for thousands of years, but until it does, if you want permanency, become a stonemason. -Spikey