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Traenk wonders how we should manage our data when so many formats come and go so rapidly.

My brother died recently, and it's been a time of reflection.  Among the items left us were several VHS video cassettes that are a compilation of several Super 8 movies taken in the 1950's and '60's.  As a past user of iMovie and iDVD, I was confident that I could create DVD's of this content.

Until I noticed that iDVD is no longer distributed by Apple.  At first, I resented the fact iLife, no longer called iLife, no longer had DVD authoring software included in the distro.  But as I think through it, is burning the mp4 to a DVD worthwhile?

  • I stream video from Amazon; when was the last time that I rented physical media, whether DVD or Blu-Ray?
  • When was the last time I saw a DVD player for sale?
  • If I burn the mp4 file to an arcane collection of VOBS and TS files, how long do those exist before needing a new data transformation?
  • What is it about Blu-Ray that makes Blu-Ray authoring software so difficult to find?

How long did 78rpm records last before that format was antiquated?  LP records, how many decades before the cassette became the preferred purchase medium?  And when CD's made the Sony Walkman obsolete, how little time did that take?  If you wanted to play the Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians music you bought in the 1930's, you might need to buy the same song in five or so different formats.  What's the change picture look like now, now that digitized media formats change so much more rapidly?

Media changes so rapidly, with new media formats supplanting old favorites in far less time.  How will you share your analog memories and images with your descendents in 2050?  Will you stay with cracking, brittle paper or maybe retain an old and dimly lit slide or movie projector?  If you digitize all these memories, will you store the results on some online repository or will you try to store these on whatever media the next gen players consume?

What is your Data migration strategy?  Now that you've considered pictures, video and music; I now challenge you to consider all those word processing documents that must also span the decades...  Somehow, dusty shoeboxes filled with letters and photographs don't seem so bad...  In my next posting, we'll discuss these impacts on businesses.