Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 22/04/2002There's a downside to digital, and news from the US is making it plain -- if the computers are turned off, the bits disappear. Over there, an online storage company closed down and swallowed the files of one and a half million users: it'll give them back if the owners cough up $25.

Monday 22/04/2002

There's a downside to digital, and news from the US is making it plain -- if the computers are turned off, the bits disappear. Over there, an online storage company closed down and swallowed the files of one and a half million users: it'll give them back if the owners cough up $25. Sounds like bitnapping to me. Over here, ITV Digital is the latest high-technology venture to join the ranks of that most modern of concepts, the cashless company, and people with set-top boxes are noticing their channel lists shrink overnight.

It's not just lack of dosh that sinks the digital ship. I'm sure you know somebody who's lost their work when an un-backed-up hard disk lost the will to seek. One recent online survey we did showed 25 percent of readers lost data that way more than once -- and admit it. In the old days, you could slap your stuff onto a floppy or two and be done: now, even recordable CDs aren't up to the task of saving 40GB of personal stuff from disaster. And disks are getting bigger, and the amount of personal and business life that we commit to them is getting ever larger to match.

Does the industry care? Nah. Instead, it seems to spend most of its time making sure that we can't copy things we buy even if we can work out a way to do it. Something's very wrong: don't blame me if one day the whole edifice comes crashing down and we all go back to typewriters.

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