The following isn’t directly related to genealogy but it is related to something that concerns all genealogists: storage of information that we have found. Today, it is easier and much, much cheaper to save information in our own computers or in the cloud than ever before. Saving things in digital format is also much, much cheaper (and safer) than storing paper. However, there are signs that consumers are saving less and less these days.
For the past 35+ years or so, hard drives prices have dropped, from around $500,000 per gigabyte in 1981 to less than $0.03 per gigabyte today. See http://www.mkomo.com/cost-per-gigabyte-update for details.
Somewhat surprisingly, manufacturers are selling fewer disk drives to consumers these days than they used to. Consumers are not downloading and saving as many files as they used to, be it text information, music, videos, or anything else. Why not? It appears that the primary reason is that all those things are increasingly more available upon demand in the cloud. There is less need than ever to save things yourself when you can retrieve those items again and again in the future at any time. Even better, the version you retrieve in the future may be updated or be an enhanced version, such as a higher-resolution image or video or contain higher-fidelity sound.
According to mathematician and software engineer Matthew Komorowski at http://www.mkomo.com/cost-per-gigabyte-update:
“Services like Pandora, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video are supplanting caches of downloaded music and movies, and making it easier for consumers to manage their media catalogs.
For reliable storage of personal files, consumers are increasingly turning towards the internet. Services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon Cloud Storage are making it easier for people to not only backup documents and photos, but also share across multiple devices. These services also provide redundant storage and, as with the streaming services mentioned above, make our lives simpler and less prone to catastrophic loss.
“the fall of the desktop (and the laptop for that matter)
As smartphones and tablets become more integrated into our lives, we are seeing much less reliance on personal computers as the single point of access for digital content. This makes a monolithic hard drive in a home office feel less like home-sweet-home and more like an inconvenience.”
Why download and save something yourself when the same thing(s) remains available at any time in the cloud? Yes, we can all think of exceptions but the fact remains that MOST THINGS that were available once online remain available more or less forever.
I must admit that I am bucking the trend: I am saving more and more these day, much more than I did just a few years ago. Admittedly, I save very little on my own hard drive(s) as all of my important files are stored in private and encrypted areas in the cloud. I save not only genealogy information, but also digital images of almost every piece of paper worth saving that comes into my life. I save photocopies of census records, deeds, pages from genealogy books, insurance documents, bank statements, Christmas cards, my grandchildren’s art work, users manuals, sales receipts, product warranties, prescriptions, recipes, and a lot more. All of my information is saved in the cloud where everything is instantly available from my desktop computer, laptop computer, or cell phone within seconds, wherever I am. Being able to find and retrieve any document or movie or song within seconds is a great luxury. It is also low-cost.
So yes, I am old-fashioned: I am saving more than ever these days.
Are you saving more than ever? Or less? Why?