History is written with ephemera. Letters, postcards, menus, maps, ticket stubs, snapshots. And we know how to store these objects, preserving the information they hold. We cannot preserve the objects that hold digital information in the same way. The kind of decay that might yellow a newspaper clipping would make a hard drive unreadable. The first vinyl records, even the first wax cylinders, are still playable more than a century later. But the first audio CDs, just a few decades old, are oxidizing from their edges, turning the last songs into glitch. A recordable CD might only last a few years.
Resources and News:
- Your old CD-ROMs are probably rotting - bOINGbOING, 11 Mar 2017
- DNA could be the future of data storage - ResearchGate, 02 March 2017
- Digital forensics: from the crime lab to the library - Nature 30 May 2016
- The trouble with reference rot - Nature, 04 May 2015