The image accompanying this post is of the Phaistos Disk. It was created in about 2000 BCE in Crete. Its front and back surfaces are covered with nearly perfectly preserved etchings, but we don't have much of a clue about what it all means. Why does this matter? It matters because the photos, data, research, and other information that matters to us today barely has a chance of lasting 2 decades, much less 2 millennia.
Experts, including Vint Cerf who is widely credited as the "father of the internet" and who is now Google's Vice President and Chief Evangelist, believe that much of the information that distinguishes the 21st century is at risk of being lost to future generations. A gaping chasm in humankind's understanding of our era could be called a digital dark age.
So how would this happen?
The 21st century could become a victim of its own remarkable technological advancement. We've made tremendous progess in data storage over the past few decades. The smartphone in your pocket, for instance, holds far more data than did PCs from even a decade ago, and the price of that storage has fallen dramatically. However, the ability to hold onto that data for -- in optimal cases -- more than twenty years is incredibly rare, and even when the data is pristine, it's not always easy to make sense of it. If you've stumbled upon a cache of floppy disks recently, it is unlikely that your current computer can do anything with them.Read More