Data obsolescence vs. laziness

Years ago, I had a blog I enjoyed posting to. One day, something made the software I used to power my blog annoyingly hard to use. Most likely, something changed that required me to upgrade or update something else and I was too lazy to do so. The longer I waited to make the change, the harder the change became, and I just never bothered. Besides, my original posts still showed up. I simply couldn’t create new posts. My blog got locked in place, frozen. Over time, I even forgot on which virtual machine at which cloud provider my blog ran on or how to connect to it.

Tech obsolescence keeps happening. We see it all around us. Links stop working. Old pages are broken. Websites disappear.

I have many photos and videos stored on USBs, DVDs, CDs, and even older technologies. I have old laptops and desktops lying around that I haven’t powered on in many years. I probably can’t even figure out how to log in any more. And many have encrypted hard drives, so accessing them may now be impossible.

And that’s assuming the data is even still readable. Disks decay over time. I recently found floppy disks from college. Excited to see their contents, I bought an external floppy drive. Sadly, I barely managed to recover any of that data.

With recording media like CDs and DVDs losing their data within years, you practically need to re-record all your data on fresh media every few years to have a hope of preserving it.

Proprietary data formats, like old versions of Word, make data even harder to preserve. So I find myself attracted to data formats like Markdown, which is human-readable.

When I created my original blog site, in 2006 or so, I was a Ruby developer and built the site with the then most popular Ruby on Rails blog software. That software later fell into disrepair and some other software became popular, but converting my blog content from the original data format to the new format was non-trivial, and I never completed the conversion. Now, I’m an Elixir developer and have barely touched Ruby in years, so my old blog content may or may not get migrated.

(With appreciation to Volodymyr Hryshchenko for this photo on Unsplash)