posted on Jul, 16 2007 @ 10:44 AM
Grady, the spectre of a "Digital Dark Age" does indeed confront us. One of the best reports on the severity of this problem also came from the BBC:
It was found that a digital compilation of the Domesday Book could no longer be opened, due to the obsolete hardware and software involved.
(Ironically, and luckily, while all this brouhaha was going on, the original Domesday Book has been in fine shape.) Here's that link:
The earliest and most authoritative study in the U.S. on this subject was written by Jeff Rothenberg in Scientific American around 1995. The
Scientific American website requires a paid subscription, but a library website (via a free library card) will get you in for free. Rothenberg's
conclusion was that only emulation software could act as a bridge to solve this problem in the long term. An updated form of that report (19 pages) is
located online at:
In the library field, this topic has been under intensive study for the last 10 years, since so many government documents have been digitized, many
without adequate study of how to provide long-term emulation software to insure ongoing access to these "born digital" documents. Here is a link
from a European library on this topic:
And I saved for last the website that has attracted global collaboration on this topic - The Long Now Foundation, created at the turn of the
millennium by Steward Brand, author of The Whole Earth Catalog:
I saved it for last because in many ways it's the most fun website to explore.