‘Father of Internet’ Warns of Future ‘Information Black Hole’

While ever more data is being preserved digitally, there's a risk that future generations will find only an "information black hole" because the software and hardware needed to read that data no longer exists, warns Google's "Chief Internet Evangelist" Vint Cerf, who's also known as "Father of the Internet." He said the solution lies with a robust and long-lasting "digital vellum" that can preserve not only data but the context and technical computing specifications that will enable future generations to access and understand that data.

Cerf made his comments Thursday during a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, taking place through Monday in San Jose.

Traditionally made from the skin of a calf or other young animal, vellum is a writing material used for centuries for manuscripts and books. Stored under the right conditions, vellum documents can be far more durable than paper ones and can last for more than 1,000 years.

"Digital vellum," according to the abstract for Cerf's presentation, would provide "a system that is capable of preserving the meaning of the digital objects we create over periods of hundreds to thousands of years. This is not about preserving bits, It is about preserving meaning, much like the Rosetta Stone."

Possible Solutions: ICN and OLIVE

In today's era of big data, when nearly 26,000 gigabytes of traffic flow through the Internet every second, preserving digital information is more important than ever. Without a way to ensure such data is accessible to people in the future, Cerf warned, our current age could one day become a "forgotten generation, or even a forgotten century."

One solution could lie with "information-centric networking," or ICN, a new approach to managing information in which data and computing alike are moved away from a single location on a...

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