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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Scotsman.com article: History Disappears in a Digital Black Hole

This excellent article (History Disappears in a Digital Black Hole) from Scotsman.com shows exactly what I was talking about back in this post on paper vs electronics. Information on the web is far from permanent. In fact, in many ways it's much more likely to disappear completely than information written on paper.

Yes there are ways to back up information, but data storage methods must be kept up to date. Like I said in my post linked above, you can transfer information from tapes to floppies to CDs to the Cloud, but until it's on paper it's still just electrons or magnetic fields. It's not directly readable.

I never like to rely on technology too much, and anything important gets printed as a hard copy. It's also why I like to keep old planners and diaries, as a permanent record and reference.



  1. I'm a librarian and know how fragile digital storage is. A collection of our historical microfilms has recently started rotting due to some sort of fungus thingy despite being stored correctly. Unfortunately we have never had the money to digitise all our old microfilm records. I have seen so many library users freaking out because they have lost an essay due to a faulty USB stick or CD-Rom and I have heard sad tales of people losing lots of digital photos because their computer was stolen or died. How many people really do keep multiple copies of their digital photos and documents and regularly check and update their digital storage. A minority I would imagine.

    I have journals and scrapbooks that I have inherited from my family that are 100 years old. Yes, they are a bit yellowed, but generally still in amazing condition. It's so lovely reading them. I love the online world, but am not yet convinced that there is a way people in the future will be reading their great gran's blog and looking at her flickr photos which is a shame.

    1. Well stated, Pennywhistler, on all counts. I have several friends who lost vacation photos, wedding photos or other precious digital resources because they had not backed up. We can't rely on any single storage system if we really want something to last indefinitely. What - you think my descendants won't be reading my blog?? Heck, I can't get my current friends to read it. :-)

      - Tina


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