Google VP leads calls for web content preservation

Vint Cerf fears our digital lives could disappear in the years to come, leaving historians with a 21st century "black hole"

Internet search

Google vice president Vint Cerf says action is needed to preserve the content of the internet for future generations to enjoy.

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in California, he said historians could come to view the 21st century as an "information black hole" without serious intervention.

This is because the software and services used to access content shared online, such as pictures, videos and blogs, could become defunct over time.

To protect against this, he wants to see efforts made to create a "digital vellum", according to a report on The Guardian, that will preserve the hardware and software needed to access online content in the years to come.

As to how to go about that, he's backing a system created by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh called Olive (Open Library of Images for Virtualised Execution) that records full details of a piece of digital content as well as technical information about the technology needed to access it.

"When you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives that is captured in digital form, like our interactions by email, people's tweets, and all the worldwide web, it's clear that we stand to lose an awful lot of our history," he said.

"We don't want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them, we need to make sure that the digital objects we create today can still be rendered far into the future."

He then went on to say that all web users are at risk of throwing their data away into a "digital black hole" in the mistaken belief that uploading content to a site or service will preserve it.

"We digitise things because we think we will preserve them, but what we don't understand is that unless we take other steps, those digital versions may not be any better, and may even be worse than, than the artefacts that we digitised."

Featured Resources

Navigating the new normal: A fast guide to remote working

A smooth transition will support operations for years to come

Download now

Leading the data race

The trends driving the future of data science

Download now

How to create 1:1 customer experiences at scale

Meet the technology capable of delivering the personalisation your customers crave

Download now

How to achieve daily SAP releases

Accelerate the pace of SAP change to support your digital strategy

Download now

Recommended

Hey Google, navigate where there's no COVID-19
Google Android

Hey Google, navigate where there's no COVID-19

24 Sep 2020
Google takes on Zoom with launch of Meet hardware
video conferencing

Google takes on Zoom with launch of Meet hardware

16 Sep 2020
Google Maps adds parking payments via the app
Google Android

Google Maps adds parking payments via the app

4 Sep 2020
Digital Services Act: Google asks European Commission to clarify responsibilities
Policy & legislation

Digital Services Act: Google asks European Commission to clarify responsibilities

4 Sep 2020

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 Sep 2020
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 Sep 2020
The Xbox Series X shows how far the cloud still has to go
Cloud

The Xbox Series X shows how far the cloud still has to go

25 Sep 2020