Lost Formats and the content cloud
December 22nd, 2009

Have the internet and the cloud liberated us from the obsolescence of formats? The image above of a paper punch card is from an Experimental Jetset page that displays dozens of content storage formats that are disappearing.

In the mid-20th century we called the things in the above image “IBM cards” and were blown away with their high tech content processing and storage methods. Some of us can remember how exciting it was when the FloppyDisk, one of the other Lost Formats, let you actually pull out content that was inside of a computer and carry the content around. Most everyone remembers the CompactCassette, which the Lost Formats page reports was introduced in 1966, replaced LPs (long playing records) in 1986, and was surpassed by CDs in 1993.

It is interesting to think about this: Now that content is collecting into a cloud, formatting itself may be becoming obsolete. We don’t need an IBM card or floppy disk to move some of the information from one computer to another. We don’t need an LP, cassette, or CD to carry it around. These days I find billowing content available online while my CDs are getting dusty on a shelf. So how do you format the cloud? Is XHTML the new IBM card? At the least, formatting has morphed into software and become virtual.

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