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Data Storage Media

Vint Cerf Warns About the Perishability Of Human Knowledge (vice.com) 348

Vint Cerf "worries about the decreasing longevity of our media, and, thus, about our ability as a civilization to self-document -- to have a historical record that one day far in the future might be remarked upon and learned from." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard: Magnetic films do not quite have the staying power as clay tablets. Clay tablets are more resilient than papyrus manuscripts are more resilient than parchment are more resilient than printed photographs are more resilient than digital photographs. At stake, according to Cerf, is "the possibility that the centuries well before ours will be better known than ours will be unless we are persistent about preserving digital content.

"The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won't we need to do the same for our modern content...? Unless we face this challenge in a direct way, the truly impressive knowledge we have collectively produced in the past 100 years or so may simply evaporate with time."

He points out that much of this century's digital documents can't be viewed without software. Do we need to start carving our web pages into clay tablets?
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Vint Cerf Warns About the Perishability Of Human Knowledge

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  • by vakuona ( 788200 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @07:42AM (#53003195)

    The vast majority of things that are worth knowing will always be remembered and preserved. If the few that forgotten become necessary, they will be reinvented.

    The world will continue spinning. No need for alarm.

    The best way to preserved knowledge is to disseminate it widely. Or, to paraphrase Linus Torvalds, someone somewhere will mirror all the really important stuff.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:43AM (#53003461) Homepage

      The vast majority of things that are worth knowing will always be remembered and preserved. If the few that forgotten become necessary, they will be reinvented. The world will continue spinning. No need for alarm.

      I think so too, the sheer mass of data generated is so absurdly much higher that even if 0.1% survives it'd be more than a century ago. That said, say you have a global WWII-class war with 6 years of fighting, rationing, power failures, shortages of parts and maybe a decade or two until industry production recovers and people got time to prioritize their history we'd lose a lot of data. It doesn't have to be post-apocalyptic wasteland bad either, but you don't produce TB-size HDDs in your average workshop. That said, at some point you have to just accept that advanced civilization depends on
      advanced civilization.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Old Greeks already had foundations of integration theory. This was lost for 1.5 millennia (see e.g. the "Archimedex Codex"). Likewise, Einsteins General Relativity (I am not speaking about the Special one, that was already in the air) may have not been found for a long time - Hilbert's alternative approach is not a counterargument, as he was in discussion with Einstein, and it is hard to disentangle how much he was influenced by him.

      Some discoveries are pretty much foregone conclusion, but with others I

    • by kent_eh ( 543303 )
      someone somewhere will mirror all the really important stuff.
      As long as everyone doesn't think like that...
    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @11:06AM (#53004295)

      And the opposite is true as well. Things that are not important will be forgotten. If need be, we re-invent them with the technology we have then.

      e.g. we have no idea how the Egyptians build the pyrimids and yet we are able to build things that are much larger then that and not only some of them. A lot of them and we do it faster.

      It is the idea that people have that
      1) There is only one solution to a problem
      2) There is only one person that can have an idea

      Again with the pyramids: there are several ways that we think it could have been done. We just are not sure and one does not exclude the other. Several ideas already.
      2) There are several places that have found out that the easiest way to make a hill is by starting with a sqare.

      Another thing is that forgetting things will result in making new things, not just reusing the old things.

      Imagine that we would be using the same building method as used for the pyramids, we would then still be using it. Instead we started to look for other solutions. If they were worse, we did not use them, if they were better, they made us forget the worse way.

      Forgetting is a GOOD thing. See it as restarting instead of adapting the same code again and again. At a certain point starting all over is much better. Why? Because things will have changed. (I am aware that comparisons are not 100% interchangable.)

      Is it interesting to know how the Vikings build the pyramids? Sure. Is it usefull for an archiitect building a new mall? Not really.
      And at this moment we have so much infor,ation that we can't even figure out what is drivel and what is usefull. And saving everything because of that is just hoarding.

    • And that's what led to the dark ages, the loss of classical knowledge for many centuries (at least as far as Europe was concerned). In fact, one could argue that without the rediscovery of that knowledge brought back to Europe by returning crusaders, which sparked the Renaissance, who knows.. we might've have remained in the dark ages to this day, or at best we'd be a couple of centuries behind where we are now. And that was with the early Islamic culture preserving much of that knowledge (sans Roman con
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @12:02PM (#53004577)

      Unfortunately that is not the case. Actually, it has never been. We know precious little of various important aspects of the past, simply because nobody bothered to write "common knowledge" down.

      For example, nobody knows how crucifixion really worked. Yes, that thing that's a central element of one of the major religions on the planet is a big mystery. I mean, yes, we know, it's been a painful way of killing people, but we lack the details? Where did they put the nails? For the longest time people thought it was through the hands, until we learned that this could not have been the case for it would simply have torn them off. Did they nail the feet next to each other or across each other? How common were some of the forms, did they actually use the "cross" form in Palestine? Are Christians wearing the wrong symbol around their necks and they should be wearing a T-shaped pendant instead?

      The same applies to Hanging, Drawing and Quartering. We have a general idea what it entails, but the details are elusive. Especially considering the "drawing" part.

      Especially when it comes to things of everyday use and customs we have often very few documents with details, mostly because the authors could sensibly assume that their contemporaries are well used to what these things mean. So while we might mirror various outrageous facts and facets of our lives and that of celebrities, with a detail never seen before, future generations will certainly wonder about the meaning of certain memes and references to them. We needn't explain to anyone what "All your Base" means or what a Rickroll is.

      In 200 years, we most likely would have to.

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      The vast majority of things that are worth knowing will always be remembered and preserved. If the few that forgotten become necessary, they will be reinvented.

      I'm surprised nobody has raised the specter of copyright in this discussion yet.

    • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

      The vast majority of things that are worth knowing will always be remembered and preserved. If the few that forgotten become necessary, they will be reinvented.

      The world will continue spinning. No need for alarm.

      The best way to preserved knowledge is to disseminate it widely. Or, to paraphrase Linus Torvalds, someone somewhere will mirror all the really important stuff.

      Things will only be reinvented if there is a financial incentive to do it. If a complex mathematical proof is lost, who is going to recreate it? There is neither glory or money in it.

      The linux kernel is used by billions of devices. An important theorem which would only be useful decades down the road might not be preserved. I've seen very useful math textbooks written by professors go out of print and then the only copies are poor xerox copies floating around with grad students. Scanning and put it somewh

  • by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @07:45AM (#53003219)

    On the other hand, most of the clay tablets didn't preserve photographs or anything else other than something deemed "important". There is a lot of past that we cannot learn from clay tablets. The other issue is that not all clay tablets are readable at all! There are still clay tablets written in languages that we cannot translate, so this is similar to "digital documents can't be viewed without software". We simply cannot read them. So that's not a new problem. Therefore I don't agree with "The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity". Sure there's a bunch of squiggles carved into the clay but that doesn't help much if we cannot understand what the squiggles mean.

    I agree that longevity issue is something that needs to be addressed somehow and I often thought about the same issue. Even with my personal data/information/photos I worry about longevity. It's a difficult problem.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Then engrave a set of illustrated children's books and a basic dictionary. These should bootstrap the language for future archaeologists.

      • "Requires IE6 and Adobe Flash"

        BWAHAHAAHHAHAA HA HA HA!

        This age will be known as the "Stupid Era" because it will look like we achieved nothing.
        The futarmen won't be entirely wrong on that point.
      • I love the idea of an advanced civilization coming along and discovering that we've made a modern Rosetta stone out of the collected works of Dr. Seuss.

        Graduate studies courses in ancient human civilization discuss how we destroyed our climate, and how we had now-extinct creatures who would speak for the trees, and so on.

    • This is certainly true, we know almost nothing about the everyday life of "unimportant" people of ancient times. We know next to nothing about the people who built the pyramids, and until very recently we might have reports about people of little importance, but no reports from them. We have only the word of their "betters" and ... well, be honest, would you want to have your life, your believes, your motivations and your outlook on life recorded by someone like Kim Kardashian?

  • by martiniturbide ( 1203660 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @07:45AM (#53003223) Homepage Journal
    That's why we have to support the Internet Archive library. Let's have a backup of everything there !! https://archive.org/ [archive.org]
    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      Yes, I use them frequently as many interesting and informative websites (and yes including those Geocities sites where someone diligently documented of a particular subject, or a business had a informative reference page). Many websites are gone usually where the person became more involved with something else, a business went out of business, forgot to pay the bills, domain name taken over, or they decided to totally revamp their site with "new" features (where it is difficult to browse or the links are in
    • by GenP ( 686381 )
      Well, assuming domain owners of the future don't obliterate the past with Archive-hostile robots.txts.
  • He's Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 03, 2016 @07:45AM (#53003227)

    I've discussed this many times before. The loss is a much nearer term than thousands of years, too.

    In the not so distant past, when Grandma passed on, the family went through and maintained all sorts of memorabilia. Pictures, letters, deeds, records/tapes/CDs, and other papers. Now, it's all digital. Facebook and possibly an external USB drive full of pictures that no one will ever know is there or find, music collections on laptops or iPods. All these things, and the records that they hold will wind up lost or in the trash and the information is lost forever.

    Thanks to the digital age, the vast majority of people on this Earth will leave far less of a mark than the tiny feint scratches left by those before them. Sure, 'data live on forever' and records might exists somewhere, but data doesn't last unless someone is maintaining it and even then, it doesn;t mean that anyone will know the data is there or where to find it.

    • Re:He's Right (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zephvark ( 1812804 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:15AM (#53003351)

      Contrariwise... my family has left an immense amount of information. Boxes and boxes of pictures, some films (!), postcards, letters, college studies... I am planning to digitize all of it. In physical form, it takes an immense amount of room, can only be held by one person, and is not backed up. It will be much more flexible, useful, and safe as computer data.

      • by dwye ( 1127395 )

        Digitize them soon. My family has photos from my grandparents' childhoods, and firstly, no one can remember who the people are, and secondly, they are fading to the point that they appear gray on gray. Contrast stretching can almost fix the graying of the old photos, but the old relatives who could have recognized the people in them (or even the locations) have and are dying before we can get them annotated. Likewise, we have the same problems with pencil writing (yes, even on important documents).

        On the

    • by NetNed ( 955141 )
      So you can't label things? Avery printable labels are pretty cheap last time I checked.
    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      One could ask how often this media is used. I recently went through my grandmother's effects and found similar. I have boxes of photo albums, old letters from my deployed in Korea grandfather, etc. I am digitizing it as I can, but no one has looked at it in years, and aside from a glance I doubt I ever will.

      So, is this really necessary information? Do we need to know that awimalich the Assyrian took an orange crap and sold 20 loaves of bread? Do we need to preserve my Grandparent's love letters? Not

    • JPEG and PNG images stored on a USB thumb drive in a FAT data partition aren't going away anytime soon, short of the mother of all EMP events. And even then, there will be thumb drives someone tossed into a large jar of loose change that miraculously survived the pulse.

      USB flash drives market to reach annual volume sales of 561 million units by 2018 [mynewsdesk.com] — article text completely worthless (bold word my addition; you know you've worked in marketing too long if you've never actually seen a denominator writt

  • Just lock some smart people up in monasteries that only have their doors open every one year, ten years, hundred years and so on.
  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @07:48AM (#53003241)

    Vint Cerf "worries about the decreasing longevity of our media, and, thus, about our ability as a civilization to self-document -- to have a historical record that one day far in the future might be remarked upon and learned from."

    I find it curious how often people forget how little of the knowledge of previous generations ever made it into written form. The vast majority of all human knowledge was never written down for most of human history and much of what was written has been long since lost. Today is no different. Furthermore people seem to forget that a tremendous amount of documents get printed so there are hard copy records of very substantial portions of the historical record. Thanks to modern printers FAR more than was ever available in previous generations and that will remain so. We should expect to lost substantial swaths of data over time. We're not going to be likely to be able to keep everything.

    He points out that much of this century's digital documents can't be viewed without software.

    Umm, I'd say 100% of digital documents cannot be viewed without software. If they could be viewed without software they wouldn't be digital documents.

    • He points out that much of this century's digital documents can't be viewed without software.

      Umm, I'd say 100% of digital documents cannot be viewed without software. If they could be viewed without software they wouldn't be digital documents.

      I think what's more relevant is that they can't be viewed without special hardware. That's one reason why we're always chasing some kind of optical storage. If you have a sufficiently advanced optical reader, you can adapt it to read other kinds of optical storage... so long as their resolution is lower than your scanner.

      What he actually said was "That many of the digital objects to be preserved will require executable software for their rendering is also inescapable." What that seems to say [to me, anyhow] is that without knowledge of the formats, getting meaningful data out will be nigh-impossible.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He points out that much of this century's digital documents can't be viewed without software.

        Umm, I'd say 100% of digital documents cannot be viewed without software. If they could be viewed without software they wouldn't be digital documents.

        I think what's more relevant is that they can't be viewed without special hardware. That's one reason why we're always chasing some kind of optical storage. If you have a sufficiently advanced optical reader, you can adapt it to read other kinds of optical storage... so long as their resolution is lower than your scanner.

        What he actually said was "That many of the digital objects to be preserved will require executable software for their rendering is also inescapable." What that seems to say [to me, anyhow] is that without knowledge of the formats, getting meaningful data out will be nigh-impossible.

        You guys have good points, but are missing the fact that professional archivists have already been debating and discussing this problem for decades. Vint Cerf may have just stumbled upon the idea, or maybe he is just trying to "spread the word". I agree that more people being aware of how easy it is experience data loss is only a good thing, but mostly just to individuals for family history reasons. The "really important" stuff such as collected scholarly knowledge, research, etc. - essentially the billi

    • by havana9 ( 101033 )
      The fact is that we're producing now a lot of digital data that is in a really perishable form, so you could have a lot of difficult to read media where maybe there's some interesting information to save. I'm not talking about encrypted/DRMd data, but about some machine-readable format. A stack od bad labelled 5 1/4 floppies could be easily thrown in the trash maybe simply because nobody has a 1541 drive or worse they're read in a IBM PC machine and marked as empty/unreadable.
      If we think analogue media,
      • The fact is that we're producing now a lot of digital data that is in a really perishable form, so you could have a lot of difficult to read media where maybe there's some interesting information to save.

        Of course you will have interesting data that we are going to lose. We've always had that and probably always will. Some of the losses are going to be tragic.

        I'm not saying it isn't a real problem but I dispute the notion that our ability to preserve the historical record is any more fragile that it ever has been. If anything I'd argue that it's better today in many ways because we have the ability to easily and quickly transfer data to new formats in many cases. Plus we can generate hard copies of a lo

    • While true, the contemporary problem is a different one. In ancient times, a fraction of what happened actually got recorded. I'm fairly confident to say that everything written before the year 0 that we know of (let alone that survived until today) is less than what has been written only this year.

      There was little that was created. But what was created was created to last.

      Our contemporary medium is VERY transitive. Very little of what we create today is written on lasting media. And when you are looking at

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:02AM (#53003291) Homepage
    It seems that there is an inverse proportionality between the durability of a storage medium and its storage density, and I don't know if we can overcome that easily, as we have the law of entropy working against us. A stone carving or a clay tablet can overcome hundreds and thousands of quantum events, and they will still be stone and clay. A papyrus starts to rot, when its molecules break up, and it gets brittle and is more easily destroyed. Printed paper is thinner and has smaller letters than a hand written papyrus and thus even small damage can erase whole words or paragraphs. And with a hard disk or flash memory, even single quantum events can erase or flip a bit, and a two bit error is already unrecoverable, and any more damage loses large swats of the file.
  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:05AM (#53003299)
    . . . some very smart people ARE already working on this issue, and have been for a long time. See the Digital Preservation Network [dpn.org] and Internet Archive [archive.org] for starters.
  • Newsreels (Score:5, Informative)

    by swm ( 171547 ) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:07AM (#53003321) Homepage

    It is happening as we speak.

    Mid-20th century newsreels--an important history of the time--are sitting on shelves in film canisters, quietly disintegrating.

    There are people who would like to copy them forward onto durable media, but they can't because the newsreels are copyrighted, but the copyright holders either can't be located or aren't interested in preserving them.

    They will be dust long before they enter the public domain.

    • Re:Newsreels (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:17AM (#53003361)
      There is nothing in copyright law that prevents the act of duplication or digitization for the creation of a backup copy. On the contrary, there is plenty of precedent on the books to affirm that this is OK and generally falls under "Fair Use." Copyright comes into play if the holding institution wishes to make items publicly available without the copyright owner's permission (hence your last sentence, which may be quote correct). Much more often, it is lack of funds to pay for the digitization or duplication effort and / or lack of required expertise that causes content to be lost in the situation you are describing.
  • What is interesting is in some ways we are moving towards (back to) a more oral tradition. As our machines get better and better at understanding us we will inevitably do more talking and listening than writing (just look at how people are starting to dictate their text messages). I recently had a conversation with someone who postulated that our ability to write would disappear entirely. I don't think so, certainly not in the next 200 years or so. Our ability (and need) to express ideas through writing

  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:16AM (#53003355)

    We had this exact problem at a former place of employment, i.e. we had contract requirements to provide access to original oil field data for the 25-year lifetime of the field, the problem was that most of this data was in the form of seismic data locked into a specific version of the exploration sw.

    The solution we came up with depended on making a virtual machine image of everything needed to run the original application & data, including license files and user databases, and then freeze the system clock: This way we could restart that image at any point in the future and as far as the sw would know it was still 2005.

    We would still need regular maintenance, to make sure that newer versions of the virtualization platform could still run the original image. In the worst case we expected to have to add an additional virtualization layer, i.e. so we could run the 2005 sw inside a 2015 virtual machine which would run inside a 2030 VM host.

    This approach has of course been used to good effect in order to save classic games.

    Terje

    • So that's why i'm going to respond to it with a counter-argument. Sure, you preserve things as VMs. That is great. The hard drive or flash drive that you have the data on has a fixed lifespan, probably under 10 years. Unless you copy it to new media regularly, the data dies. This is what Vint is worried about. If I had a book of knowledge printed in the 1700s, it would still be stable today. The bindings would be cracked and we should really reprint it, but if I preserved it in a low humidity environ

  • Thanks Randall.

    https://xkcd.com/1683/ [xkcd.com]

  • Too many not too few (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jon Peterson ( 1443 ) <jon@snowdrif[ ]rg ['t.o' in gap]> on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:25AM (#53003397) Homepage

    The issue isn't just that the media will decay, it's that the media is too cheap. There is no incentive to curate our documents, and we will end up with so many still in existence, no-one in future ages will have the inclination to wade through the rubbish.

    When people had paper photographs, they soon accumulated boxes of albums, and by 1990, those holiday snaps from 1970 were kind of dusty and not worth keeping. So people chucked them out. But of course they looked through them first and kept a couple of photos, maybe even got those framed. All of which means that when they died in 2010, their kids had only maybe 100 photos to look through, and decide what was worth holding on to.

    Now, our holiday snaps are uploaded to the cloud. They aren't a nuisance, and we never get rid of any. When we die, maybe our kids will be able to get a drive or an account key, or something, with 20,000 photos on. Do you really think they will do more than look at a few random ones, before adding them to their own 5,000 photos?

    Same with our emails, our whatsapp messages, our blog posts.

    The total amount of media from our age will still be significant - the sheer quantity produced ensures that much will remain. But what remains intact won't do so because of its significance to our age. We don't bury our most valuable items in the ground for safety, or lock them in huge chests, or keep them in safes.

    • This is the biggest problem. People want to upload everything to the cloud, but have no idea what the "cloud" really is. There are servers and storage media/devices even in the cloud. When it no longer serves the needs of the cloud provider, all of that data can and will just disappear. Even paid services close up shop sometimes. Users will be given a short window to get their data somewhere else, then it will all be gone. You have no guarantee your pictures/data will be there tomorrow with the free se

    • > by 1990, those holiday snaps from 1970 were kind of dusty and not worth keeping. So people chucked them out

      Are you *serious*? I have elementary & middle school photos that were in boxes that got soaked by Hurricane Andrew (the baby pictures were mostly safe). Three days after Andrew tore the roofs off of every house within 20 miles, I talked my dad into driving 80 miles to buy a small chest-type freezer and enough dry ice to keep it frozen for at least two weeks, double-bagged all the photos in Zip

  • The amount of information that is being generated is growing at an ever faster rate. A lot of it is still printed or archived in other ways. In the end, there is probably still a lot more information being archived, even per capita, than there used to be. Furthermore, most of that "information" is likely meaningless outside its cultural, social, and technological context. The amount of "timeless" information, information that will still be useful in a thousand years, is likely fairly modest in size.

  • Another Advantage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:28AM (#53003407)

    Perhaps the biggest advantage of clay tablet is there was no autostart videos on them.

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:28AM (#53003409)

    we switched to modern media not because it lasts longer. It's more reliable because it's more easily copied/produced. You never had the option to use stone tablets for current knowledge -- there's too much knowledge now.

    I grew up with my mother suggesting something very interesting: in 1925, if archeologists had dug up a microchip, would they have known what it was? Or just thought it was junk, or a toy, and moved on?

    If we want to "document" knowledge, in an ever-lasting way, it's the same game as it's always been: you can't do it with language at all. Sorry. Language doesn't survive. Cave wall drawings are meaningless. Hieroglyphics are useless without culture. Dialects, subtleties, and context are required to interpret language. "bread crumbs" means nothing without a house made of gingerbread.

    So how do we "document" knowledge? That's easy: reference objects. For example, the knowledge of how to build a telescope is best "documented" by building a telescope specifically for future generations to study -- maybe bigger, maybe with more obvious design decisions, maybe with more understandable materials, maybe with easily disassembling parts.

    Reference builds. I'll say it now. Distant generations learn from objects, not from documentation. We dig up old pottery, and understand what sorts of tools were used. We don't dig up blueprints for pots. Take a reference telescope, and study it for a week. You'll learn everything you need to know about how it works, how it's used, what it can do.

    Objects.

    Academics are, well, merely academic. We've lost the concept of learning from observation. Remember grade-9 science's how-to-read-a-fish? Most of my friends can't read their own dog.

    • by dwye ( 1127395 )

      OK, how do you read a dog, then? I assume you mean in greater detail than "if it bites you, you have annoyed it" or the like.

  • I once did a stint working for govt, in the dept of Education. Interestingly, that department also had responsibility for libraries and archives.

    We had an effort underway to in the 1990s to copy records form 8" disks to 3.5 inch floppies in order to ensure their viability. It was non-trivial to find a working 8" floppy, but fortunately most of the data was in flat text which made it easier then dealing with proprietary formats.

    Min

  • by kenj123 ( 658721 ) on Monday October 03, 2016 @08:42AM (#53003459)
    Effectively everything after 1921 has some kind of copyright complication with it complicating access and long term archiving. Since corporations can own stuff that ownership can go on forever. Even the Happy Birthday song is owned and nobody puts it in film or video as a result. I'm happy that google is winning the court cases its fighting to get copyrighted material on line, but its sad that it takes one corporation to take on other corporations to win.
    • It was a tough fight, but the courts have confirmed that happy birthday is in the public domain now: https://yro.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

      Still I think that the current term of 70 years is far too long. 50 was sort of okay.

      • How is even 50 ok? The whole point behind copyright isn't to establish ownership of a "product". It exists to incentivize creators by providing a protected window of opportunity for them to profit from their works before the general public can do with it as they please. Just 5 to MAYBE 10 years is PLENTY of time to recoup costs and turn a hefty profit from a work. I don't see any reason why it should last longer. Sure, 100 years ago thing moved slower, and the profitability of a work may have had reaso

  • When I was a kid I remember reading a sci-fi story from the 60's. The basic premise was the fall of civilization after a space born organism brought back to earth by astronauts ate all paper products in the span of a year. All books, records, money, contracts, medical records turned to dust.

    They have a point, but I'd say that 99.99% of what is digitally recorded is probably not worth saving. Most important things just need to be re-saved in a modern equivalent every so often. Trying to save it all in

  • Relative to the exponential growth of storage, I'm not worried about this in the least. In my own personal collection I have dozens of lifetimes of information stored. Soon this can be carried in my pocket, offline, if I desire.

    A better question is what to do with the petabytes of collected information we're amassing... aside from training our replacements via AI.

  • The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won't we need to do the same for our modern content...?

    Well, I don't know about Vint Cerf, but every time I upgrade my hard drive, the old one gets copied to a subdirectory of the new one. It's "C:\OLD_C_DRIVE\..." all the way down!

  • Aren't books just another form of optical media?
  • Answer is easy, but nobody wants to fund it. Simply print your stuff on something like the Rosetta Project (http://rosettaproject.org/disk/concept/) every once in a while. I guess we could technically do a backup of wikipedia every once in a while.

  • With all due respect, this statement is just wrong:

    "Clay tablets are more resilient than papyrus manuscripts are more resilient than parchment are more resilient than printed photographs are more resilient than digital photographs."

    Digital photographs are infinitely resilient, because they can be infinitely copied with perfect accuracy. Analog mediums do not have this feature.

    It may indeed be harder to erase a clay tablet, but because it is so difficult to produce, there's only ever one. Analog photography

  • My wife did her Thesis on this topic. It's Entitled:

    E-Ternally Yours: The case for the development of a reliable repository for the preservation of personal digital objects.

    The PDF can be read at the link below

    http://explorer.cyberstreet.co... [cyberstreet.com]

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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