adjective ev·er·last·ing \ˌe-vər-ˈlas-tiŋ\
Definition: lasting or enduring through all time or indefinitely.
Nothing lasts forever ... or does it ?!
This post won't answer anything, it just raises questions for you to ponder about.
So this is how it all started:
The other day I'm going through my old photos and videos [priceless pictures of my grandparents and myself when I was like 8 years old] and I'm trying to back them all up on my external Hard drive. And that's the thing maybe I'm paranoid (through bad experience) but I always have to backup my backups. Well at least it's not as painful as it used to be 5-8 years back - thanks to the speed of Solid State Hard Drives!
It's then I realized that every few years I basically have to slowly change the medium I'm storing my data on, going from floppy disks to CDs to big bulky hard drives, to compact ones to SSD. And if you think about it, they all have one thing in common:
SOONER OR LATER THEY WILL ALL DIE OUT
I don't want to dwell too much on this - we all know that any sort of hardware has some sort of lifespan limitation, whether it's because it'll physically get worn out or it'll become outdated. e.g. Maybe in 20 years I wouldn't even have a laptop that reads USB 3.0 ?
Thus, I felt the smartest thing to do is to upload all my stuff online into some cloud storage (painful as it might sound - esp. with Egypt's Internet) and looking at the somewhat expensive alternatives for 5TB subscription storage solutions for Google Drive or Dropbox ...etc.
I found myself asking again, are these cloud solutions really EVERLASTING?
Sure Google is definitely more experienced and reliable with their server storage systems than I am.
However, silly as this may sound, IS GOOGLE EVERLASTING?
If I subscribe to this storage solution today is there some sort of Guarantee that my grandchildren would be able to still access this stuff 50 Years from now? How about 100, 200 Years?
For all I know, Google may shutdown, migrate, get acquired, discontinue business - who knows?
Be it Google or any other Company out there honestly.
That got me thinking, as a user/customer is there anything out there that can withstand the test of time? Is it even possible for companies to promise us that some product regardless of it's performance, would stay operating for at least x amount of years. Which would then start a whole new debate - how long is x enough (but I wouldn't go there).
I understand it makes no sense for investors to keep on pumping money in a business that people lost interest in or become prehistoric for its time (e.g. Kodak Vintage Cartridge Films) but shouldn't there be a way in the 21st century to preserve things forever? at least a very very very long time?
If I go out of the digital space and go more into the water and power technology industry that I work in. You would find that most water and power plants are generally engineered to have a designed lifespan to last 25-30 years - they could in theory last a bit more than that (but you wouldn't want that really for various efficiency reasons). However, if we go into the nuclear industry, it's a total game changer engineers are expected to have these things last even longer say 40+ years of operation (sure with re-evaluation every certain # of years and blah blah blah) And that's fundamentally why these plants are complex and super expensive as they have extremely long lifetimes and they should be built to prevent any sort of radiation leakage for some 100-150 years (Japanese to argue otherwise). So maybe it's not forever - but it sure is as close to as everlasting as it gets? or is it?
I come from a country that might have had the oldest civilization that ever roamed planet Earth. AND these guys were able to build the "Pyramids" a structure that's been built for 4,500+ YEARS! Yet, it's the 21st Century and never have we been more technologically advanced - but we struggle to create everlasting digital or physical products?
This all takes me to something Elon Musk shared a few years back in an interview with Kevin Rose - He said:
“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there ...
... First principles is kind of a physics way of looking at the world. You boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, “What are we sure is true?” … and then reason up from there.
- Elon Musk
With this sort of method/school of thinking I believe we can brainstorm and reach mental realistic deductions selecting materials and engineering them well enough to have everlasting products. But then it becomes a decision to make - do we really want everlasting products? I believe companies have yet been forced to think through this way because it's simply much more profitable to keep changing an iPhone or a light bulb or even a vacuum cleaner every few years.
For the digital world, I think it's less of an impossibility compared to the physical world.
The internet can always live on in one way or another?
Maybe I am just the only one who is hoping that one day I log on to Google Drive to find that there is a new button called "LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION" and I'd know that I'm covered for life and I have been able to store my everlasting memories forever and have my kids and their generations to come know what it was really like living in my shoes :)
- Header picture is one of the many abandoned monuments and memorials commissioned by Yogoslav President Tito in the 1960s for WWII - an event that some would want to remember forever and others would want to forget.
[Location: Jasenovac, Croatia]