I’ve worried about data compatibility and posterity since I was old enough to type.
My cousins had IBM-clones while my school had Apple //e computers. My closest friends’ families got Holstein-patterned Gateway 2000 towers while I had been begging my parents for a Macintosh (which quickly changed to pleas for a Power Macintosh 7200/120 with an Intel PCI card capable of running both Windows and Mac OS at the same time).¹
My typed journal entries from my angst-ridden early-teen years were carefully saved to a 3.5″ floppy disk in Rich Text Format, as I wanted to be sure I could open them decades later² on whatever futuristic software had replaced Microsoft Office in the 21st century.
As I aged and the internet grew bigger and more media-rich, my desire to keep data free and compatible grew with it. To share videos and pictures of our children, I secured a domain name and web hosting for a blog. No need to force grandparents to sign up for Facebook or YouTube, just send them our URL. It worked great and I was proud of it.
But years later my wife and I got smart phones. Now content didn’t need to go from a digital camcorder or camera to a computer, where it was then just as easy to post to our blog as to web service. Now we could post straight from our phones to Google+, YouTube and Twitter. We were busy with young children and welcomed the ease of sharing content with relatives who so eagerly asked for more. We explained this migration to Google+ on our family blog and it’s still the most recent post almost five years later.
But the internet is always changing, and it’s more and more owned by corporations that will shut down or change products and services with little warning. The World Wide Web is littered with broken links to non-existent pages as content owners rise and fall and change.
Don’t get me started on the death of RSS.