At the time of writing, Joe Donnelly is playing the last ‘Drive’ on TXFM, Ireland’s smallest commercial radio station, but one which has arguably contributed the most to emerging Irish musicians, and quite frankly, the most fun radio station around. TXFM, and its earlier incarnation PhantomFM which I first discovered in the late 1990s have consistently played excellent music amid airwaves heavy with forgettable tunes. The demise of TXFM, which ends transmission at 8pm this evening, is a reflection of the vulnerability of digital data to sudden change, and begs the question – what is the lifespan of digital data?
Much of the information generated in the field of cultural heritage has been in digital format since the late 1990s. Increasingly over the last five years, more and more archival and digital resources have become available online, such as the resources of the National Library of Ireland, the British Library and others are increasingly available. However, accessibility to these information resources is reliant on accessibility to the platform which hosts them. Similarly the explosion in photographs, maps, reports, scans, 3D-images and the plethora of digital data generated by modern audiences has created an incredible amount of information. However, there remains the thorny problem of how long does this information last. Can we open a digital image from 15 years ago? How long does an audio file last? What is the lifespan of digital data? Continue reading