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The Digital Time-Bomb

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posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 10:17 PM
The digital revolution has changed everyone's life and hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't remind us of it.

What we don't hear much about, however, though it does get brought up from time to time, but there's a lot of data--knowledge, information--that has been stored in the last forty years or so, that is stored in formats that modern computers can't access.

Unfortunately, there will be no Rosetta stone for this delimma. If this data is not put into an accessible format soon, it will be lost forever.

Microsoft's UK head Gordon Frazer warned of a looming "digital dark age".

He added: "Unless more work is done to ensure legacy file formats can be read and edited in the future, we face a digital dark hole."

[Natalie Ceeney said], "We cannot afford to let digital assets being created today disappear. We need to make information created in the digital age to be as resilient as paper."

posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 10:23 PM
So how exactly do you believe that this data will degrade?

posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 10:44 PM
I think this has something to do with Microsoft trying to standardize one of their formats.

posted on Jul, 3 2007 @ 11:16 PM

Originally posted by uberarcanist
So how exactly do you believe that this data will degrade?

The data does not degrade, but the media can.

More importantly, hardware and software to access the data becomes obsolete, making access of the data more and difficult, until at last nothing more exists to access that data.

[edit on 2007/7/3 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Jul, 4 2007 @ 07:41 AM
I believe that there is plenty of monies and resources around to build and write software and hardware to port the data over to a new format.

I would have thought that these genius's would have just used text files or something that will be around forever.

posted on Jul, 4 2007 @ 08:47 AM
What absolute rubbish on behalf of the BBC. First they claim to have lost footage from 9/11 when questioned about that WTC 7 building segment, and now this..

They are basically telling us whats going to happen soon.. that information will become a precious commodity. Without the internet, and without archives of footage, we are back to the stone age.. with the sole difference being that we will be contained with an information fortress.

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.

posted on Jul, 16 2007 @ 12:08 PM
It's an interesting and very vital problem for librarians and anyone else who archives data. It affects all of us... around our house we have some old 5 1/2 inch floppy disks... and not a machine here to read them on. We do have one that reads 3 1/2 inch disks, but most now read CDs and USB ports.

I'm not sure if punched tape can be read any more.

And while hard data (like books) can still be preserved to some extent, some of the material on the net is vanishing. I'm part of a group that studies these "abandoned" corners of the internet. Lots of odd stuff there that may not be accessible ever again (old games for BBSs, for example).

Part of the question is how to save and convert them. Even old versions of programs are sometimes quite useful.

posted on Jul, 16 2007 @ 05:08 PM
Thanks, Byrd and Uphill

I'm glad that someone here recognizes and understands this problem and the implications for humanity, not just from a business standpoint, but from a cultural standpoint.

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 08:17 AM
Ive seen an invention made by some nobody. Basically it worked on a principle that it had the latest form of data, you accessed it and it showed you how to make something to access a lower form of data, used the disc on that and it showed you how to make the next lower down and so on.

A good idea, i thought.

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 08:30 AM
This doesn't even have to take place over years. Try opening drawings done in an early version of Autocad in one of the newer versions. I actually make quite a bit of money by converting these early drawings to newer versions. I maintain a Pentium 100 system using Windows 95 just to convert drawings. It does have a 5-1/4" disk drive.

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