What's the most imminent threat to digital data?
We do not write documents, we word-process. We do not have cameras and photo albums, we have digital cameras and Photoshop. We do not listen to radios and cassette recorders but mp3s and music downloads. We do not use a calculator or double enter in ledgers, we have spreadsheets and financial accounting packages. We do not send letters, we send e-mails.
With the transition from paper to electronic, the volume of digital information we create, store and need to hold onto has exploded.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the size of the Digital Universe (the number of 1s and 0s that exist) will grow ten-fold from 161 billion gigabytes (exabytes) in 2007 to 1800 exabytes in 2011 – or 150 piles of books that stretch from the Earth to the Sun. It is predicted to double every 18 months.
This presents us with a dilemma. We are acquiring ever-growing amounts of digital heritage. And yet we store it in formats and on storage media that last only a matter of years.
On 18 May 2010, the Planets (Preservation and Long-term Access through Networked Services) Project will deposit the Planets TimeCapsule in the vaults of datacenter, Swiss Fort Knox, in Saanen, Switzerland.
The data will be stored securely for years to come. Without intervention, however, our ability to access its contents will, over time, be lost.