Does #BitRot Make Digital Archiving Mission Impossible?

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Anarchy Journal Constitutional
Tags: , , , ,

bit rot


by @anarchyroll

The concept of Bit Rot grabbed my attention and peaked my curiosity. The fact that it has already had negative and serious affects on NASA’s ability to recall and study past missions/operations kept my focus on the topic.

What is Bit Rot? It is when an information file either digital or analog decays and/or becomes permanently unreadable/irretrievable.

Most people are familiar with Bit Rot and don’t even know it yet. When a floppy disk is damaged, a CD gets heavily scratched, a record melts, a virus wipes out your hard drive.

Why is this a concern? Because with more information being stored digitally, if Bit Rot becomes widespread and isn’t addressed we as a human race could literally lose access to our archives. Like information once written in Sanskrit with tea leaves on rocks, the information could be lost forever with no way to retrieve it and given enough time,  not know it ever existed.

Is there hope? Yes, there is always hope. There is a very good Ars Technica article on emerging technology that can help  minimize bit rot going forward and possibly eliminate it’s concern on a large scale with important information. Remember, we’re not talking IG selfies and Vines. We’re talking the stuff stored in the Library of Congress.

Keep an eye on this issue and address it in terms of your personal/professional files/archives.


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