A computer-geek friend of mine recently posed an interesting problem to me: “If you wanted to save a document so that it was easily accessible 100 years from now, what format would you use?”

I thought for a while — will MS Word go the way of Word Perfect? Some of my earliest documents in that format are already difficult to open. And what of the storage medium? Floppy discs, once the industry standard, have become the 8-track cassette tapes of the information age. I suggested to my friend that an ASCII text-only document burned onto a CD-ROM seemed the best bet. “Wrong,” he answered with a wry smile. “If you really want to make sure people will be able to read the document in 100 years, write or print it on a piece of paper.”

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