According to a recent patent application, Microsoft is working on a project they call "immortal computing," which would let people store digital information in durable physical artifacts. The goal is to preserve the information for future generations - and maybe even to future civilizations.
The artifacts would be designed to make the process of accessing the information clear by means of instructions in multiple languages or hieroglyphics. In one possible use, messages for descendants or interactive holograms might be stored on tombstones.
"It is definitely a long-term project," said Andy Wilson, the Microsoft researcher whose musings on the ephemeral nature of digital information inspired the research initiative.
One scenario the researchers envision: People could store messages to descendants, information about their lives, or interactive holograms of themselves for access by visitors at their tombstones or urns. The concept sounds like a great method of storing the "final genealogy report" that I plan to make someday.
"The whole reason to go to a cemetery could be transformed," said Eric Horvitz, a Microsoft principal researcher who also is working on the project. "The idea of a locus in physical space where this information exists ... makes that much more of a meaningful location to actually travel to."
You can read more about this immortal computing project at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/300636_msftimmortal22.html.