File not found

I went to the Wayback Machine today to dredge up some things I’d published but were no longer available online. The Wayback machine went one for two, and I was happy for the one. But it was a reminder of the digital world’s impermanence — these were published less than four years ago. I read Nick Carr’s excellent book “The Big Switch,” and in it he posits that cloud computing will lead to a giant World Wide Computer, and it will be so fast and so “smart” — so good at searching — that we will link our brains to it and become part of it and probably subsumed by it, an oddly eusocial vision of the future of humans. [see my assessment of what it means for business here: Are You Ready for the Big Switch?]

Even if he’s right, there will still be a problem: people die, and so do sites, and someone has to pay to keep them registered. Thus even in a world with free storage, there will be bureaucratic hangups — the tyranny of forms needed to show that a human has not gone offline. So my little episode with the Wayback Machine stands as a precursor to Internet Alzheimers, otherwise known as the 404 File Not Found syndrome.

And if I’m wrong, I harbor no illusions that this post will still be around 40 years from now for people to ridicule.

2 thoughts on “File not found

  1. Really thoughtful, provocative post. I hadn’t thought of us being less immortal due to the 404 File Not Found syndrome… and find myself oddly relieved by that, if not “oddly eusocial.”

    In fact, I am off to look up “eusocial.” It’s not everyone who can offer a word that I have to look up.

    Thanks for giving me something to ponder.

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