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The Internet Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Long Will the Internet Remember Us? 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-forgot-about-you-six-years-ago dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The common trope these days is that the internet never forgets. We tech-inclined folk warn our friends and relatives that anything embarrassing they put on the internet will stay there whether they want it to or not. But at the same time, we're told about massive amounts of data being lost as storage services go out of business or as the media it's stored on degrades and fails. There are organizations like the Internet Archive putting a huge amount of effort into saving everything that can be saved, and they're not getting all of it. My question is this: how long can we reasonably expect the internet to remember us? Assume, of course, that we're not doing anything particularly famous or notable — just normal people leading normal lives. Will our great-grandkids be able to trace our online presence? Will all your publicly-posted photos be viewable in 50 years, or just the one of you tripping over a sheep and falling into the mud?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Long Will the Internet Remember Us?

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  • This is forever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShaunC (203807) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:26PM (#45779279)

    Jon Postel. His name doesn't come up all that frequently but I still remember. Martin Manley. You remember that guy? I do, even if Yahoo pulled his website down.

    Come on, the internet remembers forever. You die twice, once when you stop breathing, and once when the last person mentions your name.

    • Since before Internet was Internet I have been online, but unlike many others, I rather have my real identity to remain inconspicuous.

      Why should I let Internet to "remember" me ?

      I mean, what for ?

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        In older days people had a family Bible with entries for births and so forth; scrapbooks; photo albums. "That was your great-grandmother's rocking chair." "Your old uncle Charlie got these drafting tools when he went to work for Glenn Martin." And so on.

        Nowadays, families and friends are scattered - and much in the way of family mementos as well. Is it worth anything to be remembered? And how will that be done?

        I've built a few things that ought to last for a while, tho I doubt anyone will remember the

    • You have said nothing. Wikipedia links will survive until there is no one left to defend the "notability" requirement, and it's hard to tell if permanent notability is granted after a given length of time. I'm sure they will change the rules between now and then.

      And then there are the links from tech magazines, which may or may not return responses in the "permalink" fashion. If they don't go bad, the name will probably outlast piles of people, because endless links will still pull dead people to the top

    • by rmccoy (318169)

      "You die twice, once when you stop breathing, and once when the last person mentions your name."

      Great callout to Eagleman's "Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives."

      That was one of my favorite stories that they read on the RadioLab episode.

    • by jd (1658)

      I would agree with this (it is very largely true) but material I put online in the 1988-1992 timeframe is definitely incomplete. Massive holes in what has been retained. Yes, I will be remembered, for a whole, despite the best efforts of those who know me, but those gaps mean the Internet has forgotten.

      Has it forgotten whole people? Entirely possible. If someone less wildly and eccentrically prolific in posting over those same years encountered the same gaps, they may have vanished entirely.

      Could that happe

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Come on, the internet remembers forever.

      No, it doesn't. Parts of it do; Project Gutenberg, for instance, but the internet archive falls short. I had a popular Quake site from 1998 to 2003 and maybe half of it is at the archive. None of "Yello, There!" exists at all except for one lone page.

      It remembers a lot, some forever, but it can forget.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:27PM (#45779281) Homepage

    The Internet will remember you as long as the services that have information about you exist. The services... they'll remember you as long as their owners can make money off them one way or another. As soon as they can't make money (even if it's just milking venture capitalists for another round of financing), they'll shut the servers down and wipe the databases. A couple months after that, the search engine caches will have lost track of the pages and that'll be that. All that'll be left is what individuals have saved somewhere else, and that's disorganized enough that it probably won't turn up anywhere.

    The issue for most people isn't whether the Internet remembers you, or for how long. It's that how long it remembers you is completely and utterly out of your control.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      The Internet will remember you as long as the services that have information about you exist. The services... they'll remember you as long as their owners can make money off them one way or another. As soon as they can't make money (even if it's just milking venture capitalists for another round of financing), they'll shut the servers down and wipe the databases. A couple months after that, the search engine caches will have lost track of the pages and that'll be that.

      I was going to say pretty much the same thing.
      How long did those Angelfire and Tripod sites stay up?

      • by ShaunC (203807)

        I'm not sure about Angelfire, but I was just shown a Tripod site [tripod.com] today that's still up. I had no idea the tripod.com domain even resolved anymore. The page in question still has ancient (but revolutionary for the time) JavaScript slide-in ad boxes, and is almost a time capsule from 1997 or so.

        • by Zibodiz (2160038)
          Wow -- according to his Tripod site, he still has an @webtv.net email address. That almost sounds like some sort of punchline.
          • by SeaFox (739806)

            Wow -- according to his Tripod site, he still has an @webtv.net email address.

            Well that service is truly gone as of earlier this year. I think the addresses function as aliases to outlook.com accounts now.

      • by vlueboy (1799360)

        A couple months after that, the search engine caches will have lost track of the pages and that'll be that.

        I was going to say pretty much the same thing.
        How long did those Angelfire and Tripod sites stay up?

        Tell that to geocities content. Not only does it live on in japan [since they shut down their english presence] but I've seen clones that still hold the space I made more than ten years ago. Look up "oocities".

    • by ShaunC (203807)

      The services... they'll remember you as long as their owners can make money off them one way or another.

      Fairly eternal, if you ask me. Acxiom and ChoicePoint will be out there forever. Sure, perhaps 20 years from now they'll have been bought out, consolidated, split into a few pieces due to anti-trust litigation, then renamed and consolidated again. But your records, my records, our information is not going to go away. They will always find a way to make money from us, even if it's just selling public records to ancestry.com for our future generations to figure out what a bunch of idiots we all were.

    • Beat me to it. The internet will "remember" you so long as the information about you is perceived to have value.
      • Beat me to it. The internet will "remember" you so long as the information about you is perceived to have value.

        Which basically means as long as you live, and probably half way through your childrens' lives. And that is exactly the problem in the first place. Other people and companies having hoards of information about you is bad, as it given them power over you. For as long as you live.

        • by ron_ivi (607351)

          you so long as the information about you is perceived to have value.

          The tricky part people are overlooking is value to whom?

          Which basically means as long as you live,

          Disagree - it basically means the information will be kept forever in certain silos. The NSA will probably keep your information forever - so 999 years ago of your descendants are suspected of something controversial then they can use what you post on /. to go after them. Health care & life insurance companies will probably keep some of your data forever so they set the rates for your descendants based on statistics from your genetic makeup.

      • The internet will "remember" you so long as the information about you is perceived to have value.

        But the cost of "remembering" (storing the data) is falling much faster than the perceived value. I once paid over $1000 for a ten megabyte disk. That much space now costs a tenth of a cent. I never delete anything anymore. The value of the space saved would be dwarfed by the value of the time spent thinking about what to delete.

      • by jd (1658)

        Since Twitter, Facebook and the NSA don't store anything with a known value to anyone, all three should be wiped immediately.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neiras (723124) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:30PM (#45779303)

    We're all dead anyway. None of my old files are particularly accessible, from code written as a teenager and saved to worn-out floppy disks to CDs formatted for dead operating systems. Most of my photos are rotting on hard drives and I never really bother to look at them.

    I don't want to be remembered by "the Internet". I want to be remembered by my kids and grandkids, and maybe some future programmer who might run across some old code I wrote and go "whoa, nice."

    The internet can suck a bag of dicks and charge 5.99 a month to watch.

    • It's not your call if "the internet" remembers you. And that's the problem.
      • by neiras (723124)

        It's not your call if "the internet" remembers you. And that's the problem.

        How could it ever be my call? What does that world look like?

        Through regulation? I'd rather have a wild and crazy unregulated internet than a managed, legally constrained network.

        • You'd rather have the wild west than the tamed east coast? Fancy yourself a gunslinger rather than a little old lady? Meh, too many analogies.

          It all depends where you are in the economic food chain. Regulation makes sense for people who don't have the individual power, or the time, or the expertise, to defend themselves. That's the majority of people, including me, and probably including yourself. There's always a handful of people who have the money and the connections to control or intimidate everyone w

          • by neiras (723124)

            It all depends where you are in the economic food chain. Regulation makes sense for people who don't have the individual power, or the time, or the expertise, to defend themselves. That's the majority of people, including me, and probably including yourself.

            The problem with regulation of consumer-facing internet services is that inept politicians like to formulate laws that end up driving little guys out of business, or locking new ideas out. We've had this amazing explosion of useful services from small startups and individuals. If the political class wasn't full of grey-headed seniors who barely understand email, opportunities for little guys would be highly limited by now. You'd probably need three licenses and a certificate of approval to operate a persona

    • I don't want to be remembered by "the Internet". I want to be remembered by my kids and grandkids...

      Jesus dude, isn't it time to die? This guy has some ideas for you: http://martinmanley.org/ [martinmanley.org]

      • by neiras (723124)

        Bwahaha, thanks for the inspiring link, you horrible person, you!

        All these "right to be forgotten" movements just make me laugh. We'll all get there. In the meantime "the internet" might have some dirt on us. Ruh roh!

        I'm just surprised that my eggnog-infused existential mini-crisis scored so highly! What is it with Christmas anyway...

  • Roy (Score:5, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:38PM (#45779349)

    I've seen things you people wouldn't believe... Web Rings on the shoulders of AngelFire. I watched animated GIFs glitter in the dark profiles on MySpace. All those... upvotes... will be lost in time, like memes... on... 4chan. Time... to die...

  • by THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER (2473494) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:39PM (#45779357)
    Nothing lasts forever. Move on.
  • Depends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:44PM (#45779379)

    The internet has selective retention, and things do disappear. It is still possible, last time I checked, to pull up some usenet posts that I made in the mid 90s. At one time Google was able to pull up certain information about me, but that disappeared 10 years ago. On the other hand, lots of things people posted online in information services like GEnie, CompuServe, The Source, etc., never made it onto the internet. Also, many of the old internet archives, ftp sites, gopher sites, archie sites, etc., are rapidly disappearing. I used to spend a certain amount of time spelunking, looking for various types of old information, and a lot of it has disappeared. Some professor leaves and his site and papers eventually tend to go away either by plan, accident, or negligence. A university reorganizes its web site, and old files and personal information goes away. Even on Slashdot it can be hard to find posts I made years ago. For years prior to getting an account I used to post from time to time, and I can find a couple of the posts I remember, but there is one I'd really like to find, and just can't. It seems to have faded into the ether.

    You see the same thing happen with blogs and personal web sites. They tends to hand around for a time, sometimes a very long time. But if you change to another service, or lose interest, your stuff eventually tends to disappear for all sorts of reasons. In some cases that can mean a real loss of useful information given the growing important of blogs.

    I think the fading memory of the internet is actually a problem. It often seems that for every bit of information that makes it onto the internet there is some fraction of other information that fades away. That would be great if the only problems we faced were new ones, but we keep having to fight the same old battles again and again. Sometimes the old documentation that had faded into irrelevance becomes very timely again, and the old techniques beat the new ones under the changed conditions. That is assuming you can find the documentation to make them work.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I would agree with you insofar, if *you* are looking for something (e.g. an old Slashdot post - and I am now, and probably forevermore, posting as an AC as I can no longer remember my enviably low digit username password..;) - however, I sincerely doubt Google, etc, *really* forget this stuff, it remains, after all, their business not to do so. No point in clogging up the search machines with stuff >10years old, relevance is nominal. Unless, of course, somebody *really* wants to know, in which case, th

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      I'd like to have some of the stuff from GEnie - there was some good discussion, some stuff that would now be Internet or computer history as told by the people who were there. Ditto a few things from CompuServe and Delphi. Not to mention the files libes for use with an old OS or two running in emulators (there are a few apps, for instance, for which I've found no modern examples with the same capability - or ease of use for that capability.)

      Your last paragraph: amen. Lot of good info now lost - or at th

    • by rastos1 (601318)

      It is still possible, last time I checked, to pull up some usenet posts that I made in the mid 90s.

      I have a bookmark to one of my earliest posts on the Internet - from 20th of Nov 1995 (I was wrong in that post :-) ). The bookmark still works today.

    • At one time Google was able to pull up certain information about me, but that disappeared 10 years ago.

      And then there's the problem of having a common name. The Internet might remember bits and pieces of you, but how do you separate "actual you" from "just has the same name as you"? Take me, for example. Go Google "Jason Levine". You'll get some entries from me and a lot of entries from other people named "Jason Levine". Now, I can definitely tell which are from me and which aren't, but - even if we as

  • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:56PM (#45779485)

    Put something funny/quirky/stupid on your IRL headstone, the internet will then rediscover you over and over until the words can't be read.

  • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @08:59PM (#45779507)

    It'll be the first data jubilee.

  • by darenw (74015) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:08PM (#45779539) Homepage Journal

    When my university's library expanded in the late 1980s, I wondered about two things: in another two or three decades, will they need to expand again? Of course. And also: Who is going to read or look up info in all those books? Of course, there will always be specialists and indexes and catalogs, but if the trend continues for all the 21st Century, and all of the 22nd Century, ..., at some point there will be far too much "literature" even in a very narrow academic specialty for any human to make use of. Then what about all the non-academic stuff, cheap romance novels and mysteries and memoirs of flash-in-the-pan pseudo-celebrities?

    It's not that we need a good ol' roaring book-burning now and then like at Alexandria long ago, but somehow the best needs to be brought to the top, and the most of the mediocre disposed of. And maybe keep mediocre writers from ever starting. (Stuff that's actually *bad* not merely mediocre - keep some as examples and for the entertainment value!)

    So now we have disks and all manner of extremely dense storage materials. This changes nothing, aside from the physical space requirements are reduced to near nothing. Even with intelligent indexes and indexes of indexes, or miraculously good search engines such as Google, or whatever we'll have in fifty years - it's mind-boggling to wonder how such a huge growing pile of information will be utilized.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Old libraries had that problem even more so: they didn't have indexes, like we have now.

      These days you still occasionally see some news report of some old work being discovered in a library. It had been sitting there on a shelf for possibly centuries without anyone noticing it - the library didn't know they have it - until someone runs into it and realises it's an important piece of history.

      • by Ambvai (1106941)

        One may wish to consider the short story 'Ms Fnd in a Lbry', by Hal Draper. (http://folk.uio.no/knuthe/msfndinalbry.html)

        Summed up, it's a report of an archaeological document discussing the collapse of a previous civilization due to information overload and how index upon index made it impossible to verify information and linkages if anything was ever misfiled... with the added addendum that the document in question appears to have a bad reference...

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Something similar happens already around Wikipedia.

          I recall a story about some historic US navy vessel. Some facts about it (size) ended up wrong in WP. Then other web sites took the info from WP in their own stories on the subject. Later when someone tried to correct WP, citing the original source, it was quickly edited back to the wrong number, citing other sites - sites that took the number from WP to begin with.

          And so a new truth comes to life.

    • Well, "bad" literature will die, and that's a good thing, because it will reduce the amount of material that somebody needs to go through. In scientific literature, bad papers (i.e. with erroneous conclusions, obsolete models, etc) will get cited less and less and they will thus pass on into oblivion. Cheap novels are dying remarkably fast, and only the best material is remembered.

      So, no need to get rid of bad material, or keep it from being created. The collective intelligence will take care of that!

    • by real gumby (11516)

      ...at some point there will be far too much "literature" even in a very narrow academic specialty for any human to make use of...It's not that we need a good ol' roaring book-burning now and then like at Alexandria long ago, but ...

      Back when I was a pre-computing history undergraduate [*] I did hear some people express the opinion that it was a feature that so much old info was _lost_ — so what was left was managable. For example, it’s quite reasonable to read 100% of the surviving literature in old French — I’ve done it, as have many others — because there’s so little. And so that “language” (really a language in transition over centuries) is super frozen, far more than Latin is. It

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:08PM (#45779543)

    The Internet is not a Sentient Being. It doesn't live nor breathe, nor is it a set of tubes. It doesn't "remember" anything. The systems that we associate with the Internet, like Search Engines or Storage Services all have Terms of Service (ToS) that have a wide range of rights and responsibilities that are legally binding. Since you had no dealings with the authoring of the ToS for any particular service you use, you're basically agreeing to allow them to do whatever they want with whatever you're willing to use of their services. Think Human Centi-I-Pad [southparkstudios.com] here folks.

    If you don't want to be "remembered" by the Internet there's really not a way to eliminate your information. Sure there are companies out there who'll clean up your image or try to, for a fee but in the US at least these companies can be as predatory with what you allow them to have because you allow them to do it to you. It's in the ToS you agreed to and they'll sell the information to other companies who will then create new profiles about what kind of cereal you eat or what medications you take. The downstream market on data mining personal preferences and choices is huge and even your state and local governments sell your data to middle-men data brokers all the time. Buy a new car recently? Your information, what you bought, how much you payed is all out there. So now not only is that transaction disclosed to somebody else it's used outside of that transaction to determine your eligibility to buy or possibly buy other things. You bought a VW, that must mean you fit into this box and your address is here so your income level must be this... You're now filed and categorized and your junk mail will now reflect the new influx of great marketing material targeted to that box.

    What's been lacking is a complete lack of legislation protecting your privacy and keeping your private information private. The problem with is legislators are constantly glad-handed by the same companies who mine your data constantly and they constantly lobby them prohibiting progress in protecting you. In the US the Supreme Court has even ruled that you have no expectation of privacy when you hand data over to a third party. Until this is rectified, you're screwed.

    On the flip side should you choose to deal with a company who provides their service via the Internet, I wouldn't rely on a company that offers something for free because at the root of this is how sustainable is that model? If it's "free" there's usually a hook and whatever you entrust to them will usually be subject to some change in that ToS in the future. If you pay for a service, you should make sure that the business has a sustainable business model and will grow. I mean you wouldn't put your money in a bank that just popped up and is operating out of the trunk of a car would you? No you wouldn't, but there are people who constantly trust their photos, files and other personal data to droves of Internet "startups" who will be gone or have such rotten infrastructure that whatever you give them will either disapper or be stolen. Of course you can hope that they get acquired but usually in that case, it means that whatever you have will be discontinued or substantially changed by a new ToS that again, you have no input on. You either agree or disagree.

    I tell my family and friends that it's not the Internet, it's the companies providing these services. If you trust these companies fine but then I say "Would you let them hold your wallet for a week?" "Would you let Larry Ellison watch your small child while you run and do an errand?" If not why would you then entrust your vacation photos or that huge collection of old Jazz MP3s you have to them? Sure, there are services that add value but again what's the business model and are you in control of what they do with the information you give them? In most cases, that's not true and those are the services you should avoid.

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @10:07PM (#45779809)

      The Internet is not a Sentient Being. It doesn't live nor breathe, nor is it a set of tubes.

      Well the wires are not sentient yet, but the Internet is cybernetic entity. [wikimedia.org] The Internet has servers that connect to other servers autonomously. Data flows through the web's organic structure via web crawlers, email servers, and other web services. Compromised systems still spew packets of past exploits across the web. I can tell what time of day it is by looking at the traffic graphs alone. As the sun spins around the digital world and wakes the entities living thereupon, a brain wave of stimulus pulses across the web while others exhaust their activity and drop into a more dormant state. Much the way porpoises and other animals rest one half a mind at a time. [wikipedia.org]

      You have amoebas in your blood that can be removed and placed in a Petri dish, and these individual immune system cells will carry out their behaviours outside of you. You have a colony of bacteria that lives on your skin and gives you your identifying odor, killing some other harmful bacteria. In your guts thrives an essential colony of microbes. You are a cybernetic being formed from many smaller individual living cells... Much like the Internet is a single cybernetic being formed of all the clients and servers in the world -- and its users. You are one of billions of organic input aggregation, stimulation, and accumulator cells; Just like the blood cells you depend on for survival, the Internet survives on you.

      In aggregate we are the Internet -- A cultural mind formed of self aware beings, far greater than the whole. This cybernetic symbiotic system is billions of times more aware of all its many selves than you. We do breathe information, we live online, we can be injured and even die. Is it not a set of tubes, it is a world wide neural network. The internet does remember. The more sensational, interesting, or entertaining the more impact the memory has and the stronger and longer the information is remembered; Just like in humans or other cybernetic creatures with memories.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Your nerves are not sentient beings either.

  • by sinij (911942)
    Forever and not a second longer than it has to. If your dirty secrets are around, but nobody cares to look - does it make a sound?
  • by gitano_dbs (1490853) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:11PM (#45779553) Homepage

    Theres http://www.archiveteam.org/ [archiveteam.org] a collective effort to save web sites, i am downloading Geocities in a torrent http://www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Geocities [archiveteam.org] just to recover two crap pages i did long time ago, its like watching photos 20 years old :)

  • Monument (Score:5, Funny)

    by darenw (74015) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:13PM (#45779559) Homepage Journal

    When I am a multi-billionaire, I will build a giant monument, 100 miles wide, fifty tall, and engrave on it all over every tweet and facebook post ever written since the 1990s, through all of the 21st century, so our descendants one thousand years in the future will not lose all that precious wisdom and insight into our culture.

    • 100 miles * 50 miles =~ 1.00 * 10**13 square inches

      340 million tweets per day * 100 years =~ 1.24 * 10**13 tweets

      ~0.81 square inches per tweet

      You could make it work with a small font, but I don't think all of facebook is going to fit on the other side.

    • I think you might need a bigger monument: http://what-if.xkcd.com/65/

      Particularly, I'm referencing the drawing of the dot representing the Earth compared with the "average Twitter timeline" line. You can shrink the fonts, but that still won't take it down that much.

  • ...as long as it damn well pleases.

  • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:29PM (#45779633) Homepage Journal
    Much of the concern, for the average person, is that stupid thing you did in high school and as a freshman in college will still be there when you are looking for a job. In practical terms the picture of drucken sex at a party that were posted on myspace will be back in 2007 may cause some problems now that one is looking for VC funding or a well paying job 6 years later.

    This internet thing is recent and the 'content lasts forever' is a problem of the present generation. Before the turn of the century the stupid shit we did in high school and college would go away unless it generated an official governement record, and someone was inclined to do a deep background check. Now many document every little thing that happens and posts it on services that depend on keeping those records for a long time. No forever, just long enough to be annoying when one is trying to make money or get married. Facebook, tumblr, whoever, will eventually begin to archive, or there will so much new content that old will be harder to find. Even the sex videos will become overwhelmed with the new content. Memory is not just existence, but

    establishing a navigable path to the content. Such a path will still have costs, and if we are not famous that cost will less liley be borne by the random stanger

    Let me give you a benign example. For years I had a press photon online as part of minor research project. It was posted in the mid 90's, at the beginning of this internet thing, and would be what would pop up if anyone was looking for me. After a time, 10-15 years, it simply disappeared. from a casual search. I am sure that if one dug it is somewhere online. I am sure if one dug it is a newspaper or a hard drive. But who is going to do so? Not me, not anyone I could imagine.

    • Re:long enough (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @10:43PM (#45779981) Homepage Journal

      This internet thing is recent and the 'content lasts forever' is a problem of the present generation.

      Which is why in another generation or two, it won't be a problem. When everyone's embarrassing adventures in their teens and early twenties are sitting out there in easily accessed archives, the social attitudes toward such things will be very different. Facebook and Twitter posts from 2013 will be no big deal in 2033 (and yes, I'd be willing to bet they'll still be out there and easy to find).

  • forgetting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @09:44PM (#45779703) Homepage Journal

    More importantly: Do we want to?

    Forgetting is a benefit. We all have things in our lives we do not want to remember, or want to remember differently than they truly were. That perfect holiday you had, the love of your life, how you met your wife, etc.

    In many relationships and friendships, selective memory is what keeps them together. Remembering the good times and forgetting the troubles.

  • I for one would like the Forum 2000 Hall of Fame to be restored.

    Now that I'm divorced, all that relationship advice from Cookie Monster, Ayn Rand, Bill Gates and Hillary Clinton would come in handy.

  • I think it better to think about internet longevity in terms of 'half life': a certain amount of the information recorded will decay over a certain amount of time. Few people will ever completely disappear. But that doesn't mean that people beyond a certain point will be easy to find.
  • Social media data (Facebook, LinkedIn), etc. will always be available. Even UseNet is still available as a 2.1GB download [ianmilligan.ca].
  • but a whimper. (TS Elliot). If data sits in a server, and no one looks for it or accesses it, does it make a noise? I have a warehouse full of used books (recycling collection business). No one is reading them. They exist, though.
  • The internet (in particular ancestry.com) will remember you forever, whether you want to be remembered or not. In particular it will remember your name, the day and location you were born, the day and location of your marriage (and the person you married), what children you had (when, where), and the day you died. It'll also remember how you responded to censuses. It'll probably remember one portrait of you, or a group shot. If you have an obituary it might remember that too. I expect soon it will reme

  • How has every comment missed the obvious here? As long as storage capacities stay current or increase (as seems incredibly likely) and computing power does likewise (for search concerns), then your Internet Archives and Googles and search engines and media hosts and governments, and blogs even, have no reason to delete anything ever, it will become both cheaper to store/search and a mere fraction of the data they continue to store. If any major service even goes out of business its data will be bought and
  • The more embarrassing your activities are, the more likely it is that the Internet will remember you...

    ForEVER!!! [youtube.com]

  • At the present rate of planetary warming, no one will remember humans in a few hundred years anyway.

  • Ebert Essay (Score:4, Informative)

    by BenBoy (615230) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @03:17AM (#45780831)
    Roger Ebert wrote a poignant essay [rogerebert.com] on this topic about a year before his own death. In the essay, he explores just what information about someone means, divorced from actually knowing that person. Check it out; it's a keeper. Merry Christmas.
  • I think the question is the wrong question to ask. The right question would be for how long we, the data owners, will allow the internet to store more of our data.
  • I would be willing to bet that a lot of what we do will be around forever due to mirroring sites ( some legit, some not so much ). However as your data ages, and more and more data comes out, the older stuff will be virtually invisible as its crushed under the weight of 'current' data.

    I have found that even when services go away ( like geocities, which had a lot more content than people realized ) at lot of what was there can still be found, if you search long enough, or know where to go.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A great example, Pantex. You know, the place in Texas that used to make (and now disassembles) nuclear weapons?

    They used to have a site that was really cool (not to mention a definite security hazard). Pics of everything, maps marking buildings, explanations of the in depth security measures, approximate counts of pits and weapons onsite along with a map and pics of the magazines they are stored in. Pics of folks working on the weapons themselves. Even pictures of the armored trucks they transport pits

  • Our species is looking the wrong direction.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.

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