Dear archivist friends

I think this project might be relevant to your interests: Jason Scott wants to make November 2012 solve the file format problem month.
In the last couple centuries, we’ve created a number of self-encapsulated data sets, or “files”. Be they letters, programs, tapes, stamped foil, piano rolls, you name it. And while many of those data sets are self-evident, a fuck-ton are not. They’re obscure. They’re weird. And worst of all, many of them are the vital link to scores of historical information.

Everyone knows this problem. It’s why old novelists cry they can’t pull their first novel out of Wordperfect. It’s why someone who used U-matic tapes to record the first meetings of a famous protest group goes “oh well”. It’s why, in all things, someone looks at anything older than five years, and goes “bye”, figuring there’s nothing they can do.

And I’ve had to listen to the mewings about this problem for at least 20 years now, in various forms. A lot. And then the person lights up about maybe solving this problem, and then dims and says “well, we can’t really solve the problem”. Because they know – it’d take an army of people to do it.

Let’s make that goddamned army.
See the link for his overall plan.
*raises eyebrow*

Yes. That might be... quite interesting.

*scurries off*

(These days we're less worried about most common formats for the future, its the obscure old ones that are intractable. And custom databases. And CAD. And... well, yes.)
I don't have the sort of skill levels that would be useful to the project but I can certainly appreciate what a brilliant idea it is. I still have the start of a textbook on Mathematics and Music that I started and didn't finish back in the eighty's, unfortunately stored as Pagemaker 4 files that I can't read any more and don't have a printout of. I know I may as well delete it but...