We were talking yesterday about all the material that we create every day and send off into cyberspace. Text, emails, pictures, videos, all head out there – unprotected from the elements – to be received and then stored by “systems”, most of which DO protect them from prying eyes or digital harm. Most of us are relatively confident that our “stuff” is OK throughout this process and will be in the immediate future whenever we may need to see it, share it with a friend, or permit another friendly Internet user to use it as well. For instance, where will this cool video be in 2062 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ckQacmOcX0 . Or better yet, where will this link live next year or even five years from now?
We also trust that it will be used fairly and that whatever information we put out there won’t wind up in unfriendly hands or get moved or stored in some unfriendly location or re-purposed and sold without our permission or knowledge. The irony is that few of us rarely know where it actually winds up “living” or how and when it may be duplicated, moved, or stored. These processes, usually deemed disaster recovery or high availability or business continuity are usually essential to the effective AND successful operation of data services providers. We, their customers and users, have little if any choice or control over how these essential risk-management processes will affect our stuff.
But what will happen in 50 years to our stuff after we’re gone and folks are less interested in it? Who will make de-duplication, deletion, or salvage decisions about our “stuff”. This conversation came about after cleaning out the attic and discovering a couple of trunks that contained Grandpa’s WWII love letters to Grandma, some fading photographs, and other cool memorabilia, much of which was information that would be communicated and shared electronically today. Fast forward 50 years from now. What will our heirs find out in cyberspace that once was our stuff? How will retrieving it happen? Will “friends” or others continue to have had access to it for free? Or will there be a cost or even an accrued storage fee penality? Will it take a court order or International Treaty to release it to those “friends” or others?
Our guess is that there will be new “Cloud” business opportunities coming that will collect this cyber “stuff” – archive it in vast deep, lower tiered storage systems – to be mined and marketed like a time capsule when future interested people may want it! Or will it be at our 2062 swap meet on a dusty collection of plastic coated chips that someone bought on an Ebay2062 auction.