National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


Google executive despairs of a digital dark age

People notice when a Google executive talks about a digital dark age. Vint Cerf, an Internet pioneer and Google executive, was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting and warning of "bit rot" and "digital vellum" to stem the tide of an "information black hole".

Ironically, as The Atlantic reported in its take on this story, there was a fire at a Brooklyn warehouse two weeks ago that

smogged up the Brooklyn ether (and confettied parts of the East River) with "decades’ worth of charred medical records, court transcripts, lawyers’ letters, sonograms, bank checks, and more." Huge swaths of Brooklyn's legal history literally fueled the fire, leaving one Clerk's Office representative to lament of the stacks of data lost: "They're priceless."
Of course archivists and technologists have been arguing for years over the most effective methods for digital preservation to prevent a digital dark age. No one set of methods appear to be accepted among the community. Cerf favors something called Olive (Open Library of Images for Virtualized Execution) under development by Carnegie Mellon University in association with IBM Research. They've had some success in virtualizing software such as Apple's last version of HyperCard and Microsoft Office 6.0.

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