Digital Dark Ages

Could a Digital Dark Age be the unintended result of the fluid nature of our data and the short lifespan of digital media? Yes. This common fear of archivists and librarians alike is well represented in this article in the Fairfax Digital (a leading Australian news site).


“It is 2045, he suggests, and his grandchildren are exploring the attic of his old house when they come across a CD-ROM and a letter, which explains that the disk contains a document that provides directions to obtaining the family fortune. The children are excited. “But they’ve never seen a CD before – except in old movies – and, even if they found a suitable disk drive, how will they run the software necessary to interpret the information on the disk? How can they read my obsolete digital document?”…

“To those who believe in the immortality of new media files, Rothenberg offers a suitably new-age adage:

“Digital information lasts forever – or five years, whichever comes first.”

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