Google boss warns of ‘bit rot’ as we throw all our data into a soon-to-be black hole.
According to a vice president at Google, humanity stands to lose a huge amount of our collective history that’s been captured in digital form.
“When you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives that is captured in digital form, like our interactions by email, people’s tweets, and all of the world wide web, it’s clear that we stand to lose an awful lot of our history,” said Google’s Vint Cerf, according to Ian Sample in The Guardian.
“Humanity’s first steps into the digital world could be lost to future historians, Vint Cerf told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in San Jose, California, warning that we faced a ‘forgotten generation, or even a forgotten century’ through what he called ‘bit rot’, where old computer files become useless junk,” Sample writes.
It’s ironic. As technology has evolved, our ability to use it continues to degrade with each advance.
“Ancient civilisations suffered no such problems, because histories written in cuneiform on baked clay tablets, or rolled papyrus scrolls, needed only eyes to read them,” Sample notes. “To study today’s culture, future scholars would be faced with PDFs, Word documents, and hundreds of other file types that can only be interpreted with dedicated software and sometimes hardware too.”
“Cerf called for the development of ‘digital vellum’ to preserve old software and hardware so that out-of-date files could be recovered no matter how old they are,” Sample writes.
In the meantime, maybe it’s time to get some of those photos off my hard drive and into albums. One hundred years from now, I’m pretty sure my great grandkids will still be able to turn those pages.
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