I was about to type a comment on a friend's blog but as this response would be too long, I decided to put a post on my own. Refer to Data Inheritance.
To try to make this point easier, pick a school of thought.
Optimist: Of course data will be stored forever and easily assessible via web interfaces on your refrigerator
Pessimist: Data is will be lost before you die due to some stupid virus or a hardisk failure. And you curse and swear
Tecnologist: Adequate information lifecycle management strategies can be implemented using archival, backup and content management tools.
Harddisks are getting bigger and cheaper right? When you upgrade machines, just copy stuff from one to the next leaving lots of spare. you might end up with a horrid number of old harddisks like myself that will confuse the wife, but its just the part of parcel of upgrades.
You can also utilise a host of external storage media, external enclosures and network attached storage and varied distributed and redundant file systems if you have an amazing amount of free time.
For the people who believe that "We are all going to die", or simply those who had experienced several blackouts and had their computer power turn off while working. Trust me it is super irritating. Actually the dumbest incident I experienced was when i decided to plug my computer into a server room UPS not knowing maintenance was taking place, suffice to say I did lose some emails and documents I was typing several times. Also not forgeting the recent incidents when my collegue accidentally plugged out the main cable to my workstation that was under his desk. Maybe this was all some kind of karma for the time I accidentally unplugged a server's power to test a zip drive. Occupational hazzards for working in unknown environments.
Not sure if anyone remembers the CIH virus, but when I was in Uni, that wiped out my FAT partition table and I lost all my data. Thankfully, since then I've not lost much. Experienced multiple harddisk failures but that have been overcome by Linux's powerful will read everything attitute and multiple copies of data.
So in short, shit happens.
The fabled technologist with his infinite wisdom and astounding number of jargon and abbreviations, spurning out lingo like ILM and resilence. So, WIIFM aka. "what's in it for me"? In most cases I believe that care, common sense and courtesy will give people the ability to run any system. I actually got that 3 Cs from my boating instructor and thought thats incredibly simple and it is. This means that being a technogist isn't as far fetched as it sounds. Just ignore the show offs, get into a boat and start practising.
What is common sense in data management? Read my previous disk management post.
This is the end
In summary, I think data is a very important and integral part of people who spend half their lifes typing into various machines. It characterises people and I will not be suprised if in the future, our descendents will study cultural revolutions and argue whether web publishing and blogging was an important step in our cultural changes, evolution and education.
Data, more correctly described as 'information' (interpretated data in the useful form) is intangible making it immortal, however media is tangible and hence has a life expectancy.
Data conversion does take place, much like it has over the centuries and even vital information that may have been lost may be resurrected by modern archeologist. The only thing we can do is be responsible for our own information. I'm sure other than the junk we leave behind on the net on a daily basis, we should be responsible for ourselves and be the technologist with backup.
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