Monday, August 10, 2015

One downside to digital innovation: as formats die, we lose our past

One downside to digital innovation: as formats die, we lose our past. Jess Zimmerman. The Guardian. 5 August 2015.
     Flash, a proprietary animation software made by Adobe, used to be a leading platform for multimedia but it has fallen out of favor due to security and compatibility issues.  The death of Flash may destroy Flash content by making it not only obsolete but irretrievable. When formats become obsolete often something’s lost in the changeover. "That’s not an inevitable factor of age – books, an unusually obsolescence-resistant format, have remained accessible for hundreds of years. But for many other technologies, continued survival means shedding the past." This has happened to audio and video before, such as with VHS tapes.  "Access to obsolete video formats will always be constrained by the fact that they require an older, tricky-to-source piece of hardware."

"But as early users move into middle age and beyond, we can’t expect our youth – digital or otherwise – to be accessible forever. We’re aging, but the internet’s aging too." We may need to migrate the digital content to other locations to be more shareable and compatible. "But changes in look and outlook don’t erase the past; it remains as a monument to an obsolete age. Changes in technology sometimes do."

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