"Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents" Revisited
Jeff Rothenberg's seminal Scientific American article "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents" looks forward 50 years from 1995 to ask whether the transition to digital media places society's memory at risk. Now, more than a quarter of the way through Rothenberg's scenario, it is time to review his contribution. It stands as a monument to both the value and the risk of this kind of scholarship.
David S. H. Rosenthal invented the LOCKSS (Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) technology and has been chief scientist of the LOCKSS program at the Stanford libraries since it started a decade ago. The program develops tools that allow libraries to collect and preserve web published materials (e-journals, books, blogs, web sites, archival materials, etc.) using low-cost, collaborative, peer-to-peer technology.
Dr. Rosenthal is a long-time Silicon Valley engineer. He was an early employee at Sun Microsystems, where he helped developed the X-Window System which has long been the open source standard. He was employee #4 at Nvidia, now the leading supplier of high-performance graphics chips.