Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Permanent storage

I sometimes wonder about the shift away from traditional forms of data and knowledge storage like books and such to the cool new way of storing stuff on digital formats (OK, who’s kidding who, I wonder this a LOT).

Digital storage is cool and has provided tons of new ways of working with data and new toys with which to interact with that data. Take eBooks for example.

But think about this... this new eBook thing is really great and a great way for Indie Authors to “publish”... but what if something happened that would render it impossible to view an eBook?

You might think that would never happen, but imagine if an EMP were detonated over all the major cities in America causing a full tilt black out of the entire power grid that we could not recover from? Or how about a CME (coronal mass ejection) from the Sun?

Might just ruin your day.

What worries me though is what would happen to all of our knowledge, our books, if something like this happened. In the past we had to worry about ways to preserve regular books, devise new and better ways to make paper last longer. Long ago, I am sure they had to worry over ways to keep your stone tablets from breaking before you finished the next great novel.

If we continue on the course that we are currently on where we are storing more and more data and knowledge ONLY in an electronic format, then in the blink of an eye we could lose ALL OF IT.

But wait! There is hope!

Today I read of a new technology developed by storage experts at Hitachi and to be released in 2015 that would make digital storage last for 100 MILLION years.

That’s right... 100 MILLION years.

Jesus fresco
100 Million years from now historians will use this picture to prove Jesus was an alien.

That solves one problem. The quartz storage plates would be impervious to the EMP’s and CME’s. And don’t worry about leaving it on the dashboard either, as these babies can withstand temp’s above 2000 Celsius.

But, if all the computers are fried from the evil EMP’s then how are we going to read the data?

Good question.

And in answer to this, I think about the Voyager probes they launched back in the 70’s. Each of the probes they sent out carried a Golden Record that had tons of stuff on it about us and the world we live in. The records are gold plated copper and etched into each record is included instructions on how to make a device to play back the info stored there.

So that is what we must do with the new quartz storage devices. It’s imperative. 

If we are going to create a way to store this information for 100 Million years, then we need to devise a way for our future selves to retrieve that data.

Otherwise, they might just think it’s some really plain and ugly jewelry.

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