- Advertisement -
Good Info​Future generations may know more about the 80s than the present

​Future generations may know more about the 80s than the present

There’s no denying that we live in a digital world, even our money is mostly digital. So much so that the Girl Scouts have started accepting payments through ApplePay and Venmo because very few people carry cash on them and even fewer carry a checkbook. But it’s not just our money living in some digital matrix, it’s our information too.

Everything from our health records to our social lives and news are all uploaded and stored digitally. There’s a popular saying when teaching people about the consequences of what they post online, “the internet is forever.” But is it? Sure teens and young adults shouldn’t post inappropriate things online because it can come back to haunt them, but with larger platforms collapsing, it’s got people thinking.

Where are our documents going to go if someone stops paying for the server? Where does our news go if the now digital newspaper company shutters its doors ceasing to pay archival fees? The disappearance of digital information even hits us on a a more personal level when a relative dies and they suddenly we’re unable to find the memories stored on that person’s social media account.

Samantha Sophia wrote on threads, “I recently heard that there is a possibility we could know more about the 1980s than the 2020s because of how much is now documented primarily digitally & on privately owned platforms. We’ve already had at least one major digital news platform shut down and all its articles deleted from the internet. Imagine a far future with minimal context about the pandemic, recent elections, global conflicts, and human rights violations. Great Grandchildren with little access to your photos & stories.”

Post by @raisingself

View on Threads

The digital news platform Samantha is referring to is the closing of Vice Media’s Vice.com branch which told many stories in ways that engaged younger audiences. The company is also attempting to sell its publishing business Refinery 29, according to Forbes. Of course Vice isn’t the only digital media company that faced hardship and closed down, Buzz Feed News and Jezebel have also shut down.

This isn’t the first time people have been concerned about all of our information being shifted over to digital platforms. In 2014 the BBC published an article raising concerns titled, “The decaying web and our disappearing history.” Within the article, a study is linked written by two computer scientists, Hany SalahEldeen and Michael L Nelson where they tracked historical news events via Twitter to see how much of the historical information would be preserved.

“The findings were striking: one year after an event, on average, about 11% of the online content referenced by social media had been lost and just 20% archived. What’s equally striking, moreover, is the steady continuation of this trend over time. After two and a half years, 27% had been lost and 41% archived,” the BBC remarks.

This may not seem important because it’s social media after all, but think about how much history has been documented on social media. Research papers, medical journals, even many local newspapers are all online, which wouldn’t be an issue if sites didn’t shut down. There’s also the issue of things becoming obsolete quickly. Sure, we currently just pop on the computer to look something up but 20 years ago we were kicking people off the phone so we could AskJeeves a question. 20 years before that we were using the card catalog at the local library. What will another 20 years in the future look like?

ENIAC computer from 1946 encased in glass

Photo by Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash

Just as it’s difficult to find a capable mechanic to work on an antique car, it may be even harder in the future when trying to figure out our “cloud” system after it becomes obsolete. In 2017 an article was published explaining that banks can’t find coders that can read code created 60 plus years ago in which these financial institutions run. At the writing of that article more than three trillion dollars passed through banks using the java code written in 1959 and as you can imagine, the folks who wrote that code and know how to fix it are retired.

Banks still have to run and while COBOL, the java code used to make this institutions tick is taught a a few universities, there isn’t enough interest. This means people’s great grandpas are having to get called into work to fix code from before the internet was a household word.

Banks relying on coders in their late 70s is a prime example of how things can be lost in the future due to things becoming outdated, but a pressing concern is deletion. Social media companies are privately owned so any historic event uploaded means it’s subject to an algorithm that may say it violates community guidelines causing it to disappear. Entire accounts can be removed from social media including all of the content shared. Even ebooks are only lent to purchasers until the licensing agreement expires, so maybe it’s time we rethink how we store our information.

There will always be a record of what happened in the 80s and before because things were physically written down. Encyclopedias were abundant and were an actual physical set of books, but Encyclopedia Britannica has been fully online since 2016.

Remember floppy discs? Our kids don’t, and computers don’t even come with a spot to insert one anymore. But there are external hard drives, printing pictures, downloading videos to DVD and buying the hard copy of books. While this won’t stop the possible threat of history being removed from the web, it may help you hold on to your personal history for future generations.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Subscribe Today





Get unlimited access to our EXCLUSIVE Content and our archive of subscriber stories.

Exclusive content

Latest article

More article

- Advertisement -