Friday, October 07, 2016

‘We’re going backward!’

‘We’re going backward!’ Vinton G. Cerf. Communications of the ACM. October 2016.  HTML   PDF
     Update from Vinton Cerf on blog about media longevity.  "Perhaps  by  now  you  are  noticing  a   trend  in  the  narrative.  As we move toward the present, the media of our expression seems to have decreasing longevity." It is not just digital media, but physical as well. Photographs may not last more than 150–200 years and normal books may not last more than 100 years. He is concerned for the "longevity of digital media and our ability to correctly interpret digital content, absent the software that produced it". He reflects on the ephemeral nature of our artifacts and that the centuries before ours may be better known than ours unless we are persistent about preserving digital content.

"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? These thoughts immediately raise the question of financial support for such work."  In the past, patrons, religious orders and centers of Islamic science underwrote the preservation costs. Our society must find a way to underwrite the cost of preserving knowledge in media that will have some permanence and the executable software for their rendering. Unless we face this challenge the knowledge we have produced may simply evaporate with time.

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