Who will care for your data when you are gone? I received this note from reader Ed Sona:
I’ve been thinking for quite a while about how much data I will have when I die. I’m 38 now and have about 1TB. I can only image how much I will have in, say, 40 years. How much of this data will be preserved and how will it be preserved? Who will have access to it? Those in the limelight will have plans made, but what about your average person in rural Indiana? Certainly every lifetime has value.
It’s a good question. (That’s an ancient Philippinio burial urn above; perfect for your digital coffin.)
Since I just finished digitizing my small stock of home movies (on analog tape), I filled up a 1 terabyte disc in a matter of one week. I have another 2 TBs of storage and backup of my Mac running on spinning discs in my studio. They are filled with photos and music and email and InDesign files. I have another set of backups in DVD format sitting on shelves somewhere else, in case my studio blows up.
In our home we have long rows of DVD movies and a whole archive of movies on VHS tape. Imagine if all of them were on my computer, in at least under my name in a data storage center. All this storage could easily reach a petabyte at the end of one’s life.
But I am guessing that in the long run, few of us will store commercial works, such as movies, TV, music on our own machines. I mean who is storing YouTube videos on their hard discs? We don’t because it’s always there, so why bother? Eventually we’ll subscribe (pay modestly) to the Jukebox in Sky, which will have EVERY movie made, all music of the world, and any video we’d want to see. We dip into it whenever we want, for as long as we want. Making your own copies will seem as senseless as making copies of YouTube (with some very few exceptions).
So how much data can one person GENERATE in a life?
If you are lifelogging — recording everything you do — quite a lot. Still, it is a finite amount. I guess it will settle out to some pocketable size. Then what?
Do you bury a copy with your body? Or burn both? Or do you leave it to your descendents to manage and keep online?
I have never thought about it before — do I want this website to outlast me? Should my webpage keep shining in the Machine, down through the ages?
I’d love to hear what others’ plans are. (kk at kk dot org)
BTW, when Google et al cross the point of offering free life-time storage, there may be a market then for paid beyond-this-life-time storage.