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Vint Cerf Says We Could Lose Valuable Data

Digital information one works if you keep the software too

Vint Cerf is one of the most important people in the world when it comes to knowledge of technology and how the digital world, he's pretty much the father of the internet and when he says he is worried that much of the data created since 1983 will be lost to time if nothing is done to save it, then people should really pay attention.

Cerf pointed out little details like the fact that his 1997 PowerPoint files cannot be opened with Microsoft Office 2011 and while it might not be super important for many of us to check a pie chart me made back in the 90's there are many out there who will.

Cert if the vice president of Google and it's safe to say he knows what he's talking about, but he has a good point here and one that is often overlooked in a world that is full of yearly updates and patches, with backwards compatibility of certain file types being dropped from the support list with alarming frequency. He said that while data was being collected and that people may not lose their drives over time, it's highly more likely that the data could be perfectly intact, but the means to read and interpret that data are what could be lost.

Unless the metadata survives, the compatible software survives or even the physical means to read it, then the data is worthless, much like having a secret code and losing the key, a video tape and having no player.

For example, the scientific community has been collecting large amounts of data from simulations and instrument readings, but without the meta data that explains the conditions of how the data was collected, all that data is garbage. Without some kind of "digital vellum" to help us store such information for future generations, we could lose nearly everything in a relatively short space of time, at least on a historical time scale.