In the Future This Blog Post will be Obsolete
I spend a lot of time surfing information feeds and I see how ideas form and spread from one person to another. We are in the information age and experiencing information explosion. Push button publishing has lead to ever increasing content. The librarians of the future have their job cut out for them — but that’s okay because the physical storage space for all this data continues to shrink.
The bigger question is how do you keep it accessible? Digital Rights Management (DRM) is one side of the problem — ensuring that anything locked by copyright will be unreadable in 10 years time. The other side of the problem is technological obsolescence. Even if you use open standards they are continually evolving. At the moment I can play MP3s on my computer, iPod, home stereo, car, and gaming console. What about 50 years from now?
Do you own a record player? What about a cassette tape player?
This is great for content producers because they can keep selling you the same thing over and over again. But what about when the data isn’t a consumer good? If there isn’t any money to be made from converting data to the new format du jour then it will be abandoned. Look at this New York Times Best Seller list from the 1940s to 2000s. I haven’t heard of most of the books or authors that were published before I was born. And that was before we hit the Information Age. Good luck finding those books at a bookstore.
Copyright legislation ensures that by the time a published work is freely available for copying it is almost guaranteed there will no longer be an audience who is interested in copying it. More and more content is available in digital format, but by the time it can be legally copied that format can’t be read. Do you have software that can read a WordPerfect [wiki] document ?
Old video games see new light because of virtualization and emulators. But these are the exceptions that prove the rule. At least with stone tablets you could still read them thousands years later. CD-ROMs can become unreadable after as little as two years [wiki] under normal usage conditions. Even if they are physically accessible the chances of being able to read the content 50 years from now is next to nil. When was the last time you bought a computer with a 3.5 inch drive?
Content is disposable and the chance that something you create will be read, watched, or listened to years from now are next to nothing unless it continues to remain commercially viable from generation to generation. Even if you created something that could stand the test of time there are too many new voices producing too many new things. The best of the best is a needle in the haystack and the haystack keeps getting bigger.
 And I am unfairly picking on WordPerfect. It is still a commercially available product, just one that few people use.