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Digital Conservation: How Much More Can We Expect?

Here are a few more questions I’ve thought about in light of this digital conservation idea. What are all the freely stored pieces of data I have online? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Gmail emails, attachments, and tasks

  • Google Calendar events and comments
  • Google Docs
  • Google Reader profile information, blog posts and comments
  • Picasa profile information, albums, pictures and comments
  • Google Books profile information, book listings, tags, and reviews
  • Google Maps profile information, saved locations, and reviews
  • Google Analytics data
  • del.icio.us tags and links
  • Facebook posts, comments, messages, pictures and videos
  • LinkedIn profile information, documents, recommendations, questions, answers, and comments
  • Twitter profile information, tweets and direct messages
  • Viddler.com profile information and videos
  • Flickr profile information, images, tags, and comments
  • Goodreads profile information, book listings, tags, comments and reviews
  • Slideshare profile information, presentation and comments
  • Tumblr profile information, posts, pictures, and audio files
  • Archive.org profile information and audio files
  • StumbleUpon profile information and links
  • Digg.com profile information and links

That seems like a lot to me! All of these are free tools that I use frequently, many of them every single day. But, I rarely stop to actually consider the server facilities that store the data I’m creating. As huge as this list is, it doesn’t include all the other websites that provide free data to me. My question is, do we expect every book, magazine, television show, radio show, advertisement, and movie to exist online? That’s an unfathomable amount of data, and that’s just the “professional” stuff. Add to that all the user-generated content, like what I listed above. Can we really sustain it?

Is “the cloud” really the right metaphor? What about the “the attic?” or maybe it should be the “the landfill?” Also, you can read more about a recently published “open cloud manifesto” here.

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