Internet Data: Expanding At An Accelerating RateCurrently, the internet accesses around 16 zettabytes of data and is growing at a rate of 70 terabytes per second. However, data is often leaked out and it’s hard to estimate how much of it goes offline — meaning it is effectively ‘lost’ forever. Massive efforts are currently underway to preserve what we can, but it seems inconceivable that we can pick through everything and preserve what’s most important. Even worse, magnetic media has a lifespan of only three to five years — which means it needs to copied and verified to avoid data degradation. There’s also the problem of software preservation. The internet is rotting, along with our data. Although nonprofits like The Internet Archive do good work in snapshotting web pages on an ongoing basis, pages make up only 0.0003 percent of the total internet.
Blockchain Technology: Internet Archive?We are losing our data — but is there an alternative? Blockchain technology provides us with digital architecture for a distributed ledger system. Although we likely won’t be able to preserve all of the internet’s data with blockchain, we can more securely store what is important. In fact, as librarians and archivists probably already know, cryptographic-based decentralized ledgers are the perfect vehicle for data authentication and storage. Perhaps it may be possible to imagine multiple archival blockchains acting as the data reserve for internet history in the future. However, we’re a long ways away from such a vision. Regardless, the promise of emerging technologies clearly proves that the current disappearance of data might not be a permanent defect but, instead, a temporary limitation of our modern internet infrastructure. Do you believe blockchain technology can help preserve the internet’s data? Let us know your thoughts below.
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