The Rate of Information Obsolescence
What happens to dead data? Can data ‘die’? Now that we have the ability to never lose information, do we decide to use it for study?
Without intelligent verbal communication the only information being used was from our senses. We would see someone doing something, starting a fire for example, and mirror this technique. Eventually this information would proliferate across society (or go viral). Transitions of information like this was extremely lossy, meaning the original way of starting a fire might be so modified down the line that we have no way of knowing what the original methods were.
Once society learns that valuable initial step, developing a written language. We can begin to encode information more efficiently. This information is looked at as, well as written in stone. While this encoding is still extremely aggregated (as is talking), it becomes the basis for society to move forward, solidifying these concepts helps us collectively develop. This permanence helps ground topics around them. The biggest problem with the early basis of permanence requires a great deal of money as well as significant social impact to change the information. Information like this is not given any room to breathe, we cannot treat it as malleable, but rather as the stone it is written on.
Paper, arguably one of the most pivotal technologies humans have used. The cost to develop ideas and share knowledge goes down dramatically. We can question and build on this knowledge. The wealth of storing information becomes elusive and sadly the medium is susceptible to easy damaging. While society is moving forward, the techniques for purging (always simpler than creating) proliferate. No longer must you destroy a stone, all that it takes is lighting a match. The information is lost just as rapidly as it is created. Our ability to improve the transition method does not increase, but it does not stop human creativity, with languages always evolving.
Moving beyond simply having a written word, we begin to find ways to store visual and audible representations of moments in history. Society falls in love these mediums. Artists build monuments with all mediums, but these certainly entice those who dare to try. We begin to store pointers to our current lives for our future selves. Digital mediums begin to allow for dramatically decreased cost in storage.
Our society is dealing with whip lash from the leap in advancement. We begin to look at communication in an empowered one to many and many to one way. Society feels like information transfer is limitless. The cost of storage is becoming nearly negligible, and we percieve a new change. A limitless potential in the information stored. This stored information can empower us to do great things. There is quite a lot of data that exists that contains no useful information. How do we handle this information? Do we archive it? Should we delete it? Is that removing the choice from the creators of the information?
Some random ideas I am hopeful of from the future (no constraints here):
- A monumental leap forward in the ability to share. We create art to speak to each others souls, and I would love to see a technology that allows us to do so more efficiently.
- The acceptance of permanence. Does society accept that information is immutable? Is mutability a human right? If it is, how do we move to a world where that next choice, the revision is viewed as a celebratory job on the individuals fault and not a failure of character?