To avoid a digital dark age, all stakeholders must put their heads together
Vinton Cerf, who has made pioneering contributions to the evolution of the Internet, reminded the world this week that we may be headed for a digital dark age in the absence of a systematic effort to find solutions.
The problem is unique to digital storage. The data is stored on some medium in the form of bits. It is then read by the software when a user wants to access it. The rapid pace at which technology has evolved has meant that data stored in some forms is almost lost within a generation or two because the technology to read it is out of date. For example, even NASA discovered that some of the data captured on its first space missions, which was stored on magnetic tapes, was almost lost. For individuals and businesses, data stored on floppy disks a couple of decades ago is now difficult to retrieve.
Cerf, who is a Google employee, has been advocating for a systematic approach by industry and governments to insure against the loss of digitally stored data due to technological obsolescence. This is a global issue that will require all stakeholders to come together.