GreyMatter

Data Movage

Kevin Kelly of ‘The Technium’ recently posted a illuminating piece on the concept of “Movage“:

Digital continuity is a real problem. Digital information is very easy to copy within short periods of time, but very difficult to copy over long periods of time. That is, it is very easy to make lots of copies now, but very difficult to get the data to copy over a century. For two reasons:

1) Formats change. Because of rapid technological evolution the “language” which one storage media speaks can become obsolete (incomprehensible) in only a few years. Or the hardware that speaks that language becomes so rare, it cannot be accessed. Who can read the data on ten-year old floppy disks?

2) The storage medium itself can decay. Turns out that paper is much more stable over the long term than most digital media. Magnetic surfaces flake, peel, shatter. And the supposed durable CDs and DVDs aren’t very stable either.

Is there a solution to these unique problems posed by modern-day media?  Fortunately, Kelly’s essay also provides the answer:

The only way to archive digital information is to keep it moving. I call this movage instead of storage. Proper movage means transferring the material to current platforms on a regular basis — that is, before the old platform completely dies, and it becomes hard to do. This movic rythym of refreshing content should be as smooth as a respiratory cycle — in, out, in, out. Copy, move, copy, move.

As it turns out, without knowing about the concept of “movage”, I was already exercising it!  And today, when I look back, the only pieces of digital work I can access from my past 10-15 years are the ones I bothered to keep moving to current media formats…

Are you doing enough to keep your critical data moving?