Thursday, May 3, 2012

Will Your Blog Be Obsolete Tomorrow?

We put so much time into our blogs, many of us. 

But will anyone be able to read them in 20 years?  (or, even sooner?)

If you think this is a ridiculous question, answer this question:  Do you have something in your house that can play any of the following, all of which existed as "modern technology" during my lifetime:
-a wire recording (OK, I'm dating myself here);
-an 8 track tape;

-a cassette tape;
-an 8 inch floppy disc;
-a 5 1/4 inch floppy disc or a 3 1/4 inch floppy disk;
-a plastic digital audio tape?
-a VHS tape?

The problem is (except maybe for the cassette and VHS tapes), not many people have these playback devices, either.  So, the history recorded on these devices may well be lost forever.

And what happens when the devices we use today become obsolete?

Consider these facts:
-The Rosetta Stone, recording a decree issued by an Egyptian king in 196 BCE, is still quite readable and the only barrier to reading it was not knowing two of the three scripts the decree was inscribed in;
I can read the Lliad and the Odyssey, although they were first composed (most likely) in the 8th century BCE;
I can admire cave paintings in France first created around 35,000 years ago.

But I can't read floppy discs I created with my first computer, purchased in 1996.

If this doesn't concern you, consider this essay written back in 2002 written about our National Archives called "Are We Losing our Memory?"

So what happens when the Internet evolves, or even becomes obsolete?  What will happen to all the data on it?  True, we have the Wayback Machine, but I have tried to use that on a number of occasions and have found it is not easy, or reliable, to use.

So, short of printing out our blogs periodically (probably killing a forest each time), what can we do?

Will your blog be obsolete tomorrow?  Probably not, but wait 20 years.

We know the Middle Ages but will we know the early 2000's?


  1. Wowza - is that a thought-provoker?! I love your point that the ancient methods still work - it's the "new" technology that becomes obsolete. I think this may be an argument for the continuation of printed books!

    Will definitely RT!


  2. VERY interesting. I was working on a post for a later date and wanted to refer to a blog...that is almost impossible to find. For that matter, since someone bought my old URL (babettefeasts dot com) out from under me, ANY links ANYWHERE that used to come to my blog now go to the interlopers. I changed my URL to, and the content is still there, but if I die and someone gets the new URL, the words may sit there in cyberspace, but will anyone be able to access them.

    I used to think it needless worry--LOOK at all we are writing these days. The written word is FAR from dead. I feel as if more people are writing more words--for better of for worse--than ever before. i have GREAT letters from my family in emails..

    But what if I close that email account without saving my emails somewhere ELSE.

    I want these words still. I think we need to think about how we really will preserve them.

  3. I worry about this all the time. It started back when I was teaching college and realized that these kids never wrote letters or ever had anyone send them mail at school. Sad.

  4. I was on a library committee for years, and this was one of the things that really worried our librarian.

  5. It's an interesting thought, but I'm pretty sure I've read about groups who have organized themselves to catalog and store "the internet" in something approaching its entirety.

    That said, do we need all of our blogs to survive?

    The cave paintings you mention almost certainly aren't the best ever drawn, they're just the examples that have reached us.

    Think of all the old tv footage that has been lost because of shoddy storage methods (or in the earliest days, because they couldn't imagine anyone would ever want the shots a year or ten years later). It hasn't impacted our understanding of the early days of television.

  6. Thank you, all, for your thoughtful comments. I was very nearly a history major and it does worry me, too.


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