How we are stopping global memory loss
The world is at risk of losing its memory. We want to make sure it doesn’t.
The growth of online data is exploding faster than we can create systems to manage it. Not only is there pressure (through regulations and business need) to keep data for long periods of time, there is also a strong need to digitally preserve our cultural and heritage items for the future.
Most cultural and memory institutions have an archival strategy in place to ensure that items are not lost through degradation, disaster or damage. However, in the absence of storage mediums designed for long-term preservation, the data is most often only secured for a few years at a time.
This means that data must be migrated when the old medium or software becomes obsolete. In only 20 years, we see examples of institutions migrating data 5-6 times. Not only is this incredibly expensive, it’s also incredibly risky. One study estimates that 80% of migrations fail in some way.
With the vast majority of our global memory stored on technology that will grow obsolete in the near future—or is not digitized at all—we are at great risk of global memory loss.
We decided the world need new a way to keep it’s memory. Which meant three things: we needed to change how we think about preservation, we needed a new technology and we needed somewhere incredibly safe.
A few years back Vint Cerf of Google proposed a solution to this challenge: take an X-ray snapshot of the content and the application and the operating system together, with a description of the macine that it runs on, and preserve that for long periods of time. Creating a digital snapshot—a time capsule—to recreate the past in the future.
With the experience we gained from the film industry we set out to try to solve this challenge. We knew that film had incredible longevity and we wanted to explore if it could become a digital medium, offering the same longevity to data.
After years of intensive research and development, supprted by the EU, we did it. We found a way to record data onto film, using high density QR codes. We made sure our technology was future-proof, migration-free, unalterable, permenant and secure. It is also independent, of us and any proprietary technology:
1. The reading technology is completely open-source
2. We even include the descriptions on the film on how to build a reader in the future, should we assume that all of this is gone.
3. And in the simplest way, all you need to get the information back is a magnifying glass, an image capturing device and any form of computing power.