TITLE: Looking Backward and Forward AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 11, 2015 2:59 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Jon Udell looks forward to a time when looking backward digitally requires faithful reanimation of born-digital artifacts:
Much of our culture heritage -- our words, our still and moving pictures, our sounds, our data -- is born digital. Soon almost everything will be. It won't be enough to archive our digital artifacts. We'll also need to archive the software that accesses and renders them. And we'll need systems that retrieve and animate that software so it, in turn, can retrieve and animate the data.
We already face this challenge. My hard drive is littered by files I have a hard time opening, if I am able to at all. Tim Bray reminds us that many of those "born-digital" artifacts will probably live on someone else's computer, including ones owned by his employer, as computing moves to a utility model:
Yeah, computing is moving to a utility model. Yeah, you can do all sorts of things in a public cloud that are too hard or too expensive in your own computer room. Yeah, the public-cloud operators are going to provide way better up-time, security, and distribution than you can build yourself. And yeah, there was a Tuesday in last week.
I still prefer to have original versions of my documents live on my hardware, even when using a cloud service. Maybe one day I'll be less skeptical, when it really is as unremarkable as Tuesday next week. But then, plain text still seems to me to be the safest way to store most data, so what do I know? -----