Vint Cerf, a “father of the internet”, says he is worried that all the images and documents we have been saving on computers will eventually be lost.
This is a really smart guy telling the world the same thing I’ve been saying here…don’t just save your images, print them!
Currently a Google vice-president, he believes this could occur as hardware and software become obsolete. He fears that future generations will have little or no record of the 21st Century as we enter what he describes as a “digital Dark Age”. Mr Cerf made his comments at a large science conference in San Jose.
His focus now is to resolve a new problem that threatens to eradicate our history. “Our life, our memories, our most cherished family photographs increasingly exist as bits of information – on our hard drives or in “the cloud”. But as technology moves on, they risk being lost in the wake of an accelerating digital revolution. Old formats of documents that we’ve created or presentations may not be readable by the latest version of the software because backwards compatibility is not always guaranteed. And so what can happen over time is that even if we accumulate vast archives of digital content, we may not actually know what it is.”
“We have various formats for digital photographs and movies and those formats need software to correctly render those objects. Sometimes the standards we use to produce those objects fade away and are replaced by other alternatives and then software that is supposed to render images can’t render older formats, so the images are no longer visible.”
“This is starting to happen to people who are saving a lot of their digital photographs because they are just files of bits. The file system doesn’t know how to interpret them, you need software to do that. Now you’ve lost the photograph in effect.”
“If there are pictures that you really really care about then creating a physical instance is probably a good idea. Print them out, literally.”