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Thursday, March 18, 2010

In the end everything goes bye bye

Yes, even your precious CDs will decay eventually. As books and writing are brought into the digital age, several questions crop up: Are words less meaningful because they are so impermanent? Is the internet going to turn into a giant dustheap of information, unintelligible as broken hieroglyphs to anyone in the future? How do we keep the important stuff from decaying or getting lost in the shuffle?

The question that is interesting me most right now is the safety of the massive amount of digital information created today. Who is protecting this information and are we, as a culture, perhaps a little to comfortable with the permanence of our digital world? Is it hubris to feel safe with so much of our cultural heritage sitting on magnified material when the Earth is one big magnet?

Patricia Cohen of the New York Times delves into these questions directly here.

And here's a blog entry from the blog, Time, Etc., discussing the various lengths of time digital media takes to decompose.

Where do old web pages go when they die? Who knows, but a lot of them* can be viewed here.

And finally The Gutenberg Project is, thankfully, taking old books (as long as there isn't an existing copyright, e.g. Kafka, Shakespeare, Emerson, etc.) and doing their damnedest to make sure they don't disappear. You can visit the Project here.

*About 150 billion, to be exact.