Obsolete storage formats present two difficult challenges if they are to be preserved. While we might succeed in preserving the physical storage medium (e.g. magnetic tape decays if not stored properly), it’s much more difficult to preserve the device needed to read the information off of the storage medium. This is ‘the viewing problem’—unlike papers and stone tablets modern storage needs special machinery just to read it. While civilization has preserved tablets that are thousands of years old, our modern technology can’t even last 50 years.
- The Clock of the Long Now
- Societies live by decades, civilizations by centuries and our technology will not persist on these time horizons.