alphadogg writes "A assistant professor from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is sounding a warning that companies, the government and researchers need to come up with a plan for preserving our increasingly digitized data in light of shifting document management and other software platforms (think WordPerfect and floppy disks). Jerome P. McDonough, who teaches at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says there exists about 369 exabytes worth of data, and that includes some pretty hard to replace stuff, including tax files, email and photos. Open standards could play a key role in any preservation effort, he says. 'If we can't keep today's information alive for future generations, we will lose a lot of our culture,' McDonough said. Even over the course of 10 years, you can have a rapid enough evolution in the ways people store digital information and the programs they use to access it that file formats can fall out of date.'"