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Once again, future-safe archives

Saturday, October 10, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named joker.jpgEvery time a relative passes this issue comes front and center for me. Most other times it's just lurking in the shadows.  Permalink to this paragraph

We need one or more institutions that can manage electronic trusts over very long periods of time. Permalink to this paragraph

The institutions need to be long-lived and have the technical know-how to manage static archives. The organizations should need the service themselves, so they would be likely to advance the art over time. And the cost should be minimized, so that the most people could do it.  Permalink to this paragraph

I've felt that universities would do the best job, since they already need to maintain the work of their professors, possibly in partnership with technology companies. This could be a huge source of endowments, as wealthy people with a vision for techology compete to build long-lasting monuments to their creativity and generosity.  Permalink to this paragraph

And of course why not actually have the work be created in the archival form, so there's no pile of work to do when the person passes. Permalink to this paragraph

At this point I am managing the content for two relatives. At some point not too far down the road I will pass too. I would like to set aside a bit of money to maintain these archives, and to help inspire others to do so as well. I'm willing to devote a substantial portion of the time I have left to this task. Permalink to this paragraph

I don't run an institution that could fill this role. I've suggested it to people I've worked with at Harvard, a university that I think would be perfectly suited for the job, possibly partnering with a technology vendor. Amazon almost has exactly what we need, they just need a partner who does domain registration, and there must be a financial service organization that pays the monthly hosting bills.  Permalink to this paragraph

My father left a huge number of photos he took over forty years of traveling all over the world. He spent a lot of his time in retirement digitizing the photos. We have purchased leonwiner.com. So we've got a fresh problem right now. My mother, who owns the copyright has given us permission to license the photos under the Creative Commons.  Permalink to this paragraph

There's a huge amount of work to do to get ready for the future. Who else is interested in working on this? Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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