back to article What happens when Facebook follows MySpace?

While it may be true that the web has an infinitely long memory, I'm struggling to figure out where to store pictures and anecdotes from the lives of my children. Given how quickly fashions change on the web - from MySpace to Facebook to Instagram to Twitter - it's hard to believe that anything, no matter how dominant it is …

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Good old silver halide negs will still be readable in 50 years - USB? I doubt it.

I've got a couple of old 6x9 cm cameras I use to take a few pictures of the family with. A fiddle developing the rollfilm (I do it myself), but I figure in 40-odd years when they're cleaning out my stuff a shoebox full of big old negatives is going to be easier to deal with than a collection of thumb-drives etc.

I scanned a couple of dozen glass plates my wife's family had stashed away and they came up nicely; if I didn't have a scanner I'd have built a simple light box and used my DSLR.

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Re: Good old silver halide negs will still be readable in 50 years - USB? I doubt it.

Actually, even well-made colour prints and slides are viewable after ~40 years, as I have discovered when recently looking at pictures my parents have taken of me. The best look almost as if they had been printed yesterday. Of course, there are also some badly faded ones, but nothing that is completely lost.

Contrast this with digital media, where preservation is an "all-or-nothing" affair, and after decades without recopying to new media, the result is more likely to be "nothing".

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Re: Good old silver halide negs will still be readable in 50 years - USB? I doubt it.

I shoot a good deal of film these days, as well as digital imagery. And I'm inclined to agree that my negatives are far more likely to survive the next century intact than are the ones and zeroes that reside on today's digital storage mediums.

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K
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WTF?

Excellent example for the Moron test

Your data is safer and less likely to be abused

a) On some obscure server in some obscure data center than you don't control

b) Burnt and sent to Santa Claus for safe keeping

c) Shredded and mixed up, so you can later re-assemble it

... Getting back to the serious answer, never rely upon a 3rd party, especially one that is trying to monetize your data. Instead build yourself a NAS server with RAID, then if you want to share some photos upload them to Facebook or Google+, but at least you have your primary copy local and know you can always get access to it (even if facebook went tits up!).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Excellent example for the Moron test

Arrrgghh... RAID is for uptime, and sorry but there is still a good amount of consumer grade RAID that is less than optimal from a reliability standpoint.

If you know what you're doing and understand the risk, then by all means go for it. Just know/understand that RAID does not mean you can skip backups/redundant-copies if you really care about your data.

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DIY

You should not rely on any online service to either warehouse your "memories", or keep them away from unwanted eyes. They're offering a free service and you get what you pay for.

So far as formats go, anything you decide to archive off, and store in a box in the loft today will be the equivalent of being written in "olde english" in 25 years time - if there's even any reliable hardware to access your chosen storage method. So the only viable solution is to keep the stuff you value, yourself. Hold the original source on your primary computer (and on a second computer 'natch) and occasionally add new copies in formats that seem likely to stick around for a reasonable length of time - lossless wherever possible.

While that might seem like an imposition, it'll help you decide what is REALLY worth keeping, and what turned out to be an impulsive decision to capture an obscure (and almost always) embarrassing moment for posterity. If you can't be arsed to keep your "precious" memories current, then they're probably not that precious after all.

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Go

Roll your own

You can't depend on any company being around long enough to safeguard your pictures and videos. I use Flickr for sharing, not long term storage. I also think having monolithic storage systems. like NAS, at home is probably not much better as you've got a lot of vendor lock-in and a single point of failure. Over the years I've stuck to using my files in their most basic formats (jpg) and arranged in folders. I back these up using rsync to whatever is mainstream media. 15 years ago it was Zip disks. Once they became obsolete I moved to CD, then DVD and now to commodity USB hard drives that I rotate. Eventually they'll become obsolete and I'll move on again. I learnt from Zip disks to avoid as much proprietary technology as possible so the files can be read on any device. Ultimately this is a problem not even people like the British Library have been able to solve - the best I think you can do is to keep your storage current, move to new formats when old ones are dying and don't depend on companies to do it for you.

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WTF?

non sequitur error

please re-submit

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Meh

This is, of course, the problem that Presidential Libraries and cemeteries were designed to solve. The former is a more direct solution, but rather limited in target audience.

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The nature of the beast

By its very nature the Internet and various Cloud Paradigms are ephemereal. They have the capacity to grow , shrink, modify and completely disappear with the click of a mouse button.

The internet is not a tangible thing, it is akin to thought in that it is dynamic, profoundly large and impossible to cage.

This is not the kind of place that you want to use as an archive for your "private life".

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Archive problem

What about burning the stuff to a CD/DVD, or whatever happens to be the media of the moment? It might not be "Web 2.0", or "cloud" or any other silly buzzword, but it works, is simple and you know what you're getting.

Why do you feel the need to chuck your precious data out into the wild and rely on anyone/anything else to keep it safe for you (which they/it won't)?

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Re: Archive problem

Did you not bother to read the article? He isn't bothered how to save a safe copy - but a way to PRESENT the stuff on the web so he can see it and let others do so. Making a backup on DVD means everytime something new takes over, you have to re-upload them and set it all up.

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Re: Archive problem

Actually, that's NOT what Matt Asay said, at all.

To paraphrase: "store pictures and anecdotes from the lives of my children." and "worry that all of my digital memories are going to be locked into a dead-end" and then "I don't want just my data, but also its presentation"

Which doesn't mandate "the web" at all. In fact, given his gloomy views on the permanence of anything web-based, it's worth considering that the web, itself, may not be permanent or exist long enough to be a viable option.

As a very general rule of thumb, the older a thing (technology, building, company but not person) is NOW, the longer it's likely to survive in the future. On that basis, stick to old technologies: cave painting, clay tablets or maybe just paper.

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Mushroom

Cloud?

How about the cloud storage options, I know with S3 you can even publish a simple website using the service. You end up paying for the storage but would have easy access, and I imagine easy access to migration tools should you need to.

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Picassa and Google+

I access everything through Picassa which indexes photos uploaded via pc, laptop etc to a home server, hit the upload button to share via Google+, keep it restricted and send the link to anyone I want to view. It works for me.

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Tattoo it...

Just tattoo all your pictures and blog posts onto your skin, if you start running out of skin space, cram loads of doughnuts ( www.krispykreme.co.uk ) to increase your surface area. This eventually becomes self-limiting as:

longer life => more data => more skin area you need => more doughnuts you cram => the fatter you get => the sooner you die => no more storage space needed.

You can even have yourself mummified for really long term storage.

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1990s tech

The 1990s had this covered with what they called the 'home page'.

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Skydrive

I'm just using Skydrive at the moment to share out photos with a few friends. No matter what online service you use to share & store your photos, it's always a sensible idea to keep your own offline backups.

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Unhappy

Re: Skydrive

Skydrive automatically resizes your photos, so don't rely on that to keep your full hi-res images in the cloud.

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Unhappy

Re: Skydrive

"Skydrive automatically resizes your photos, "

Actually, you can prevent this with resetting a checkbox in the uploader, but you have to be alert. It always defaults to resizing in each session :-(

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Loosed for words

Yeah I'm using a similar service. Stores me photos etc there for me. It's called Megaupload or something. Reminds me I must up load the boys latest birthday photos to it..........

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Windows live had social networking before everyone elsew. It's a pity they were crap. I'd have more faith in MS being around in 20 years than facebook.

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Anonymous Coward

picture album every 6 months

that's what I do. printed for ever, and it's more fun watching the pictures then on the web, not to mention showing them to others.

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What is "permanent"?

As the article says:

Any thoughts as to the best way to achieve this?

Actually, there is no real "safe" way to archive much of anything. There used to be a Library in Alexandria that went to ashes bunches of years ago (they are making a new one). That was thought to be long lasting. Here in the USA, our census records are pretty long lived, but one has gone to ashes (1890?) already. Stone edifices have lasted quite a while, but weather takes them out after a while (and they have low storage capacity anyway).

History is a fickle thing, it is usually written in the current era, hopefully using "sources" from days gone by. Sometimes things CAN be saved (my family has company documents from a covered wagon company headed out to California during the gold rush in 1849), but good historical documents are the exception.

What to do? Lots of copies, and keep making them. Hopefully they will be on media that can still be used in 10-20-30 years. Nice to keep old units (anyone have 9 track tape drives?) just to make sure.

So, keep those 8 inch floppies, they may be needed!

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Pint

Re: What is "permanent"?

No doubt. Semi-permanence requires regular rolling migrations. Even if we have the media, there is no guarantee that a suitable mechanical player can be found. If we have the file, there is no guarantee that the file will be compatible with newer versions of software. Aluminum pressings of CDs oxidize, and files get logical corruption on any media. Celluloid deteriorates, and the magnetic particles fall away from the tape it is attached to or gets ghosts from being rolled up. Even the first commercial phonographs are curios now, and that is a mere century. Old 78 record albums can be converted, but it is also a hugely manual process. This applies to just about anything that needs to make the technogenerational cut. If it is important enough it survives.

As far as thinking that getting something into a Cloud DC that has a proper backup and replication? Or even local solutions plus offsite... Logical corruption still happens.

And in a worst case scenario an EMP creates huge technology free zones. And if that doesn't get us then an asteroid, the sun, or the Vogons will. Excuse me while I put a paper bag over my head and lie on the ground. Six pints of bitter please the world is about to end.

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Re: What is "permanent"?

...What to do? Lots of copies, and keep making them. Hopefully they will be on media that can still be used in 10-20-30 years. Nice to keep old units (anyone have 9 track tape drives?) just to make sure.

So, keep those 8 inch floppies, they may be needed!

I still have the high-capacity FireWire Zip drive that I bought along with G4 minitower back in '06. I test it out from time to time to make sure the hardware works, and that the test cartridges are still readable. I copied most of my Zip cartridges to CDs -- and then to DVD ROMs -- a few years ago, but I still keep some of the cartridges containing the more important stuff; I even bought a few 750mb blank Zip cartridges recently when Office Depot had them on special. When my budget permits, I'll be making fresh copies of all that material onto compact USB drives.

Much of my more important Hi8 video footage has been transferred to miniDV cassettes -- one of my back-burner projects, for when I have time, is to edit some of that stuff and burn it to DVDs -- but I've still hung on to the old Hi8 cassettes as they're still in good shape.

Still, I drew the line at saving my old SyQuest media. I've only got so much space around here.

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Ru

Is it still your data once you've given it to facebook?

Their usage agreements are always entertaining to read. I certainly wouldn't entrust them with any of my memories, regardless of how long I'd expect the company to last.

All my photos are currently backed up on 1TB drives using reasonably sensible open source filesystems, and stored at the homes of a couple of relatives... I'm happy that this has a lifetime of at least 10 years, and at the point at which USB or SATA becomes obsolescent, 1TB of whatever the latest storage tech is will be dead cheap to purchase and it shouldn't take more than a few days to transfer stuff. My various websites and Flickr get the high-res jpegs. Anything that is actually any good gets a print or two.

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Purely anecdotal

I was editing my friends list on the Book of Face and found that of the 200 or so accounts about 15 had been deactivated, 7.5% gone. I wonder if it's a growing trend.

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Happy

I keep my photos on my own drive...

...and back them up (a) locally, and (b) using Dropbox. If (when?) Dropbox dies, I'll switch to another cloud backup solution. If my own local drive or server dies, I'll buy another one.

I don't really understand what the problem is here.

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Re: I keep my photos on my own drive...

Yup, that's the way to do it. Facebook's lack of permanence is only a problem if you try to use it as a permanent solution. I store full res copies at home and back them up, then chuck whatever needs sharing at Picasa in default quality.

If you've got the images stored at home then who cares if your social network of choice disappears overnight? You can upload them somewhere else in the morning.

The long-term storage discussion is interesting and does raise an issue though. Techies will transfer their pics as they go along, but a lot of people take photos via their phone and over 4-5 upgrades many of those will get lost. Everybody's granny has a box stashed somewhere, full of old pics but I'm not sure our generation will have the equivalent. We'll have a pile of old phones we can't charge or access and forgotten image libraries scattered across a variety of yesterday's social networks.

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What about Evernote?

Their careers page (evernote.com/careers) claims:

"We’re building a 100 year company."

Maybe ask them to set up a photo hosting service.

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Faceparty!

I had exactly the same problem some years ago when Faceparty decided to close it's doors to, well anyone that wasn't female. Years worth of albums were lost, and the company wasn't interested in allowing me to obtain all my pics back.

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Facepalm

Backup

At the moment backup all your files to an external hard-disk.

In a few years time you can move them to an external SSD.

In 15 years time copy them to an Optical Hologramatic Store.

In 30 years time copy them to your personal N-space Quantum Store (or Superstring Store)

I've done the same.

Our family photos went from Slides/Paper to Floppy Disks to CD-Rs to DVD-Rs and are now stored on about 4 different HDDs. Having multiple copies is also important so if one "archive" is damaged/lost it can be replaced.

You cannot rely on anyone else, even if you pay for the service as they all get bought out or go under eventually.

If it matters to you, then YOU need to take responsibility for it.

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Pint

Re: Backup

"Our family photos went from Slides/Paper to Floppy Disks to CD-Rs to DVD-Rs and are now stored on about 4 different HDDs. Having multiple copies is also important so if one "archive" is damaged/lost it can be replaced.

You cannot rely on anyone else, even if you pay for the service as they all get bought out or go under eventually.

If it matters to you, then YOU need to take responsibility for it."

Well said. My stepfather has done the same thing. He's still got the hardcopies, but all that is backed up digitally, and that too, has backups. All under one roof. Barring a nuclear strike directly above Tempe Arizona, all his precious photos and documents will live on in perpetuity.

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Mushroom

Trust

As you and many of the posters here have pointed out, you simply cannot trust any online social enterprise to store your precious memories. Here today, gone tomorrow.

There are two needs here that you are using Facebook to address: 1) archival of important data and 2) sharing of content with friends and family

It is easier to arrive at a long term solution by separating the two.

1) can be addressed via the traditional means of offsite backups or the use of a specialized archival service (how MUCH exactly is it worth to you to keep your data? If you want it stored underground in a nuclear bunker, there are companies that provide that service)

2) is trickier but doable - it requires an open standard for social media to be drafted. This would allow people to choose their own implementation for sharing with their friends - many millions would continue to use Facebook and Twitter, while the bulk of the posters on this page would opt for hosting their own standards-compliant server. The standard would ensure that you would be able to "friend" people and "like" content held elsewhere. The biggest obstacle to the execution of this idea is Facebook itself - their value is enshrined in their users' data and any solution that would make it possible for them to move elsewhere would be resisted. However, supporting such an initiative would ensure that they would be able to hold on to SOME market share and would not end up marginalised like MySpace.

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Re: Trust

There is an open standard for social networking, it's called Disapora. But without billions of advertising dollars behind it (fueled by invasive privacy policies), it will be slow going and is in no means guaranteed of success.

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Meh

Re: Trust

Diaspora is more open-source software than open standard - a substantial difference. Nonetheless I wholeheartedly support their mission. I didn't mention them in my comment as, despite their worthy goals, they have so far failed to produce anything tangible. The concept of an open standard in social networking is a good one despite the perceived failures of those trying to execute that concept. To mention Diaspora would have confused the issue of "what to do" with "how to execute it"

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You can't beat DIY for consistency

The problem is that you ultimately can't have it both ways. You cannot make it somebody else's problem to perpetually store your content for free and expect them to be around forever to provide that free service. If you want to keep the content, both data and presentation, the only way you can ensure that it will be around for the long term is to take care of it yourself.

Something like Freedombox may well be a suitable solution. You keep control of your content, and you can still use online freebie cloud storage (Skydrive, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Dropbox) for backups. You could even organize and flatten your data into static content and upload the lot to several of the above, and have it accessible directly from the mentioned cloud services over HTTP. If one of them goes away, the URL might change, but the content will not. And you can work around the URL changes using your own domain name and a simpleframe redirection service that opens a full screen frame and loads in it the base URL of the content you want accessible from your cloud storage service.

You could even make the content dynamic using the public cloud services, but you'll have to implement all of the dynamic aspects of it in JavaScript so that it all runs in the browser on the client side.

This would give you consistent presentation and content, and mirroring to multiple could storage services would mean you don't rely on any one of them being around forever - and as new ones come up, you can mirror to those, too, to protect yourself against data loss.

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And your point?

> I know I can export my data, but that's not really the point.

> I don't want just my data, but also its presentation.

> I guess what I want is a standard, something boring and... permanent.

Haven't you just contradicted yourself there?

Personally I use Flickr, and backup everything, including comments, tags etc using http://hsivonen.iki.fi/photobackup/

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Couldn't agree more

There is no permanence to internet based services 'in the cloud' for your personal data. No matter how heavy an internet services user I am, I cannot bring myself to do anything other than store originals of all my data (photo, video, documents) on a hard drive/memory cards. I treat any data I put on the web as disposable - because that is exactly what it is to many of these services, and that is exactly what these services are to many of their VC's.

Facebook etc is just a way to share for me, not a way to horde/keep/store safely for myself.

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Meh

Seagate

Ever hear of that company known as Seagate? Put all the photos and documents on your hard drive. Use a long-lasting format, such as those from the OpenDocument Foundation or MS .doc/.docx, or PDF. Keep your photos as .jpg. Configure automatic backups for your hard drive, and keep at least one backup off-site.

I've hung onto things for the last 20 years this way, I fully expect to be able to deliver tens of thousands of photos to my child as well. Sorry if it is "boring" or "90's." Automobiles are "boring" and "early 20th century" but they still work great for what they were designed for.

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Boffin

Multiple cloud locations - A programming challenge

I have been musing about the same thing and I believe the only safe solution (if one wants to store pictures on the web, instead of a shoebox) is redundancy. For example, I have put pictures on both Picasa and Skydrive (and some to Opera's photo sharing site).

However, the uploaders of the sites make massive redundancy massively laborious. What is needed is an program that uploads you pictures to multiple cloud services automatically. You would designate a set of pictures to back up, and the sites you use (+ any needed authentication info), and the application would do the heavy lifting without further questions, so you could leave it running overnight.

Wish I had time to write this myself...

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Re: Multiple cloud locations - A programming challenge

iPhoto/Aperture. As well as a local archive it can post to multiple clouds, as well as DIY stuff. Does mean you need a Mac.

The only problem is every new version it needs to "convert" your local archive which is annoying and can lead to corruption if you failed to backup first (woo hoo for Time Machine)

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20 years much less 2 , 30 years much less 10--NO!!

Sorry all, I am not a grammar Nazi or anything like that and I know it is off topic BUT :

When you an "x much less y" structure such as:

"20 years from now, much less 2" or

"30 years from now, much less 10"

x should be a smaller number than y.

Phew! I feel better, for some reason that was doing my head in.

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Windows

Scriptable uploads

For the past 2 or three years I've found a combination of Imgur.com for pictures, Vimeo.com for movies and the Super Dimension Fortress freeshell.org (need to email them a one dollar bill for a web account) for the text and meta works adequately.

My point is though, that the whole lot is backed up multiple times on machines I own, and I've picked services which happen to have a convenient way to automatically shove the latest content on line from a shell script. If one of those entities drops off the web, I'll pick another with a non-interactive means of publishing content and tweak my scripts to suit. That way, the content will be available as long as I can be bothered to keep it maintained.

It's a cheap way to do it. And archive.org hoovers up everything at irregular intervals too.

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Anonymous Coward

For Photos

I'm using Piwigo (http://piwigo.org/) on a home server.

Open photo looks interesting too: http://theopenphotoproject.org/

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FAIL

Perhaps, Matt, you should do what I do...

...which is to save my memories on DVD ROMs and a flash drive or three, in protected zippered binders on a bookshelf in my studio, and keep the original fotos in a proper foto album, and perhaps print copies of some of the better fotos on some coated photographic inkjet stock and frame them on acid-free mounting board.

Just sayin'.

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Flame

Re: Perhaps, Matt, you should do what I do...

Interesting. How does the presentation work? Are they in a DVD disk array of some sort so when your family members in a different state click a link they can see them all or did you just completely miss the point of the article?

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I think the expectation is too high. Less than 30 years ago I was writing articles on a typewriter. Then I moved to a computer using five and a quarter inch floppy disks and then to a computer using three and a half inch disks and now I'm using a combination of online storage and an external hard drive.

Since I've moved to electronic storage I've managed to migrate some of the material from one format to another. I have no doubt that I shall have to go on doing that. The real problem is that, as time goes by, the sheer volume of stuff that has to be transferred is growing.

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