Digital Permanence

Manton Reece<a href="http://www.webcitation.org/69MbpxFrb" title="Archived on webcitation.org">cited</a> wrote some sensible words about the permanence of material on the Internet, and Dave Winer<a href="http://www.webcitation.org/69MfRmURM" title="Archived on webcitation.org">cited</a> followed suit shortly after (and then again<a href="http://www.webcitation.org/69Saa4Z82" title="Archived on webcitation.org">cited</a>). It’s an important topic.

We need places — secure, digital, permanent places — to store things. It’s not a particularly difficult problem, at least to attempt to solve. (Of course, we won’t really know if we’ve succeded for another few hundred years.) So we should try!

A couple of ideas that I’m using as a baseline these days:

  1. Store things in open formats, so we can continue to read them.
  2. Store things in a small number of large (and non-esoteric!) repositories (i.e. filesystems, or drives, or websites, or whatever), so they’re easy to migrate to other places.

The latter is, I think, important: it means that the data can be easily handed over to someone else.


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