Whether information represents one man’s sentimental archive, the accumulating knowledge base of the human-machine civilization, or the mind files stored in our brains, what can we conclude about the ultimate longevity of software?
The answer is this: Information lasts only so long as someone cares about it.
The conclusion that I’ve come to with regard to my DAISI (Document And Image Stored Invention) project, after several decades of careful consideration, is that there is no set of hardware and software standards existing today, nor any likely to come along, that will provide any reasonable level of confidence that the stored information will still be accessible (without unreasonable levels of effort) decades from now.
The only way that my archive can remain viable is if it is continually upgraded and ported to the latest hardware and software standards. If an archive remains ignored, it will ultimately become as inaccessible as my old eight-inch PDP-8 floppy disk.
Information will continue to require constant maintenance and support to remain “alive’.
Whether data or wisdom, information will survive only if we want it to.
By extension, we can only live for as long as we care about ourselves.
— Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is near, about information interchange regarding constant software and hardware changes.