Digital Data: Lost Forever?

In the past, I have worked with and for statisticians, satisfying their needs both as an administrator and as a programmer. Two things I learned about statisticians: you can never have enough disk space, and you can never keep data long enough.

Thus, losing data due to the inability to read the medium or the format it is in is indeed a crisis. I’ve heard people talk about this before, but just recently has an article by Jerome McDonough titled ‘Digital dark age’ may doom some data. While it is mostly those in library science sounding the alarm, it is not limited to libraries and archives: statistics may lose old data, researchers can lose old research, and lawyers may find critical digital legal documents unreadable.

Take a moment and read the article and decide how you’re going to resolve the problem for your data. While you’re at it, you might look into your data retention policies (if you have any) – but that’s a topic for different day.