20 Feb 2012
Think back a mere 10 years ago. Nearly everything was paper-based. You had to go to the bookstore to buy a book. You wrote letters that required a stamp to get to their destination, which took days and sometimes weeks. I have a few shoeboxes of letters and cards I've received. These are artifacts. Meaningless to nearly everyone, they're priceless to me: they mark points in my personal history, my story. When we first started to use the web, we printed out articles to read later. I still have articles I printed out several years ago, that I re-read and refer to on occasion.
Today, nearly everything is digital. We have email. We have digital bookstores. We read on iPads and Kindles. The web is still young, but already, the question becomes, "Is there an app for that?" We need to be careful about who we choose to entrust with our data, our digital artifacts. Services come and services go. Companies fail, they get sold. We have yet to master the art of archiving digital content on the web. We can and must do a much better job preserving the content we work so hard to create, not just for nostalgia's sake, but to ensure that we leave records and artifacts for the generations to come.