• entries
    14
  • comments
    10
  • views
    19610

Data permanence (or a lack thereof)

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
swiftcoder

1828 views

When Google VP Vint Cerf warned that increased dependence on technology could lead to a 'digital dark age', he merely echoed the concern of everyone involved in the preservation of information in a digital world. While it is expedient to dismiss his claim as sensationalist and/or paranoid, Google's announcement yesterday that they are closing down the Google Code source code repositories provides an unfortunate echo to his cries.

When I received Google's email detailing the repositories I have ownership over, I found a number of University projects, some python sample code, an entry to a video game competition, my now-venerable python user interface library, and one more item which I had forgotten about: a collaboration some years back to build a video game.

Like most such ventures, the collaboration fell apart after a few short weeks, the project creator and I went our separate ways, and I never heard from him again. But now, with the code scheduled to be consigned to oblivion within a year, it seemed like a good time to reach out and formally put the repository to rest.

It was then that I realised just how easy it is to lose information forever. I have an email address for the project's creator, but it turned out to be a long-defunct hotmail account, in the name of the project, not the user. The handful of of emails we exchanged don't list a real name, and mining various websites I was only able to find a possible first name, as well as a location of Christmas Island - a place so obscure I doubt he actually lived there. Team collaboration was largely accomplished through a private forum, but the project's website is long gone, the contents of the forum with it. The domain is still registered, but through a registrar in China, which doesn't list an owner in their whois records.

Long story short, unless he happens to read this blog post, I'll probably never hear from 'star.anger@hotmail.com' again. And in the greater scheme of things, it doesn't really matter: the game was never made, what small quantity of code made it to the repository will never be reused, and I doubt there is clear ownership of the code and assets regardless. The principle of it all still rankles, though.

For however short a time, a group of individuals came together to build something ambitious. That endeavour is over, the fleeting sense of camaraderie long gone. All that remains is an untouched repository and the half-remembrance of an anonymous typist behind a presumably-distant keyboard.

Who knows? Perhaps the other team members have stayed in touch. All that I know is that it's all too easy to lose track of people and things in a world based entirely on ones and zeroes...

(Originally posted at https://swiftcoder.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/permanence-or-a-lack-thereof/)

7
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0


1 Comment


Interesting that you should be posting this now, just yesterday a friend and I were going through some of our conversation logs and found various pieces of encrypted mails and messages, and only through the sheerest of luck did we manage to dig up the (custom) software we used from the dustiest corners of our respective hard drives, make it work on our machines, and find/remember the various keyfiles and passphrases needed to actually read the stuff. It really is far too easy to lose data.

2

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now