I blogged about the issue of data loss many organizations and individuals, myself included (I can kiss all those undergrad research papers saved on 3 1/2 inch floppy disks goodbye) experience due to outdated file formats. I came across an article posted to the Americans for the Arts Cultural Policy listserv detailing the same issue. The article originally appearing in the BBC News Web site, "Warning of data ticking time bomb", can be read in full by clicking on this link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6265976.stm
Part of me feels that the idea of a "ticking time bomb" is a bit on the sensationalist side. Surely large organizations with the resources to handle that much information will figure out a way to keep the data accessible. I think the people who will get the short end of the stick unfortunately are those without the labor and/or money to figure out. Having worked in a variety of arts organizations from five-person outfits to mid-sized organizations, my impression is that there is often not enough emphasis on proper data storage.
My challenge to you is to think of how you will safeguard your organization's vital information - data about your constituents, grant recipients, financial transactions, donor histories, etc - how will you ensure the information is still easily accessible thirty years from now? It is our responsibility to make sure as much of the organizational history as possible is passed on to our successors. It would be great if we could pass it on in such a way that they can actually use it to further the mission of the organization.