Following news this week around the “father of the Internet’s”, Vint Cerf’s, comments about the current state of the telecommunications industry and what he deems an impending “digital dark age”, the web is abuzz with news and speculation.
In this age of cloud-computing where information authorship and data privacy is at the top of the agenda, these concerns are perhaps well founded, especially given what’s happened to some of the top organisations and their information leaks in the past couple of months.
Network systems are the talk of the web’s tech niche, with Vint Cerf helping to draw attention back to the issue of how we manage and handle data in this new age of global information storage and transmission.
This becomes especially important when dealing with large data inputs across wide areas. Although there are proven techniques to optimise and control wide area networks, Mr Cerf’s concerns go beyond the technology deployed but more about the ethical side of data management.
Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, Cerf made these comments at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting earlier this month and according to Cerf, the concerns he has over data management, are something to be taken seriously in the case of privacy and sharing.
Thanks to what Cerf refers to as “bit rot”, the theory goes that the rapid evolution of technology at a rapid rate puts doubt over the longevity of the current data management systems we have available to us, especially those revolving around storage formats and the fact that they can very quickly become obsolete.
Expanding on that, the concept mainly comes down to our use of applications. Using specific programs and software applications to read the information we share across the web and our businesses could be limiting rather than beneficial as a result of these applications becoming incompatible with new hardware advancements. The result of which would mean that most of the data we take for granted today might be lost in the near future as its accessibility is put into jeopardy.
In response to this predicament Cerf wasn’t completely averse to solutions. Proposing something he names the “digital vellum”, the idea is that we can preserve our information and data by implementing a tool that can help recover formats which have become obsolete.
In actuality there are already projects like this currently in place. Carnegie Mellon University’s Olive Project, aims to build a technological answer to that solution which seeks to preserve the long-term use and access to content and data we might need to use in the future. Although the tool, led by project leader Mahadev Satyanarayanan, is yet to be released and in use, there is hope that Cerf’s warning about “bit rot” will be easily overcome.
Interestingly this isn’t the first time the storage and telecommunications industry has faced a situation like this. Almost a decade ago talks were underway in the Storage Networking Industry Association around the idea of building a digital archive but have since trailed off into silence.
Hopefully with Google tackling the issue and proponents like Cerf raising awareness, business owners will have nothing to fear when it comes to the topic of “bit rot”. The idea that we won’t have access to the data we have now in the coming years seems to be appearing less and less of a concern.