Servers of Babel

Jorge Luis BorgesJorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Library of Babel” told of a fictional library with every possible book. Within the vast library, all useful books and books of gibberish would be included together putting the process of finding information into a desperate state.

The rise in digital archives without a corresponding rise in organizational structures could lead to a “Servers of Babel” scenario, at least for awhile, when we’re archiving 27 exabytes (27,000 petabytes, or 27 billion gigabytes) of data in the next two years. Finding new ways to organize and create useful means for accessing this information–and finding ways to preserve decaying, deprecated, and dying files and formats–will make for exciting research and work for 2008 and beyond.