Vint Cerf, the real creator of the internet, was on BBC News today discussing the eventual loss of all our digital data. He is a Vice President at Google, so he has inside information, and real long-term clout. He is working on something called digital vellum that will make our current digital information available to people a thousand years in the future. His project is rather similar to my Earth Ark Project which is aimed at saving seeds and other stuff high in the mountains of Antarctica. His idea is to store digital information somewhere so it can be retrieved at some future time. One problem he worries about is the reverse compatibility of equipment and processes of digital information after newer machinery comes into use.
Vint Cerf said, “Digital vellum is not just an idea but an ecosystem that is able to remember what bits mean over long periods of time, centuries to thousands of years. To recreate that digital environment so that the files that we created, that are interpreted as music, or images, or text, or anything else, video games, can be reproduced in the distant future.” “How do I make sure that in the distant future the standards are still known?” “The digital snapshot of the whole system will let us recreate the past in the future.” “This is all achievable if we standardize the descriptions, that’s the key issue here.” Apparently it is a virtual machine that he is talking about that can be stored and operated totally within another computer, perhaps only in the memory. It would seem to be a standalone system he is designing, but with the memory systems now available everything ever digitized before now will be storable in a single day’s production of memory chips in a short time. At present the entire English Wikipedia can be downloaded onto a SanDisk 128GB USB 2.0 Flash Drivefor only $35. That isn’t all of human knowledge, but it’s a lot of it.
I posted a blog on something similar to his idea back in 2008 named, Is a thousand year digital data storage possible using Pergamum? I was considering it as part of the storage of seeds and other information, such as books, as well as digital data. It appears I am about eight years ahead of Google again, such as my doing the Google Street Views with 360° photos of Telegraph Avenue back in 1999. What else?