2-second moral of the story: archive, archive, archive
with natural language decipherability
if you think it's better to err on the side of preservability. And anything else you can think of that ends in "ility".
PRIORITY ONE MESSAGE FROM STARFLEET COMMAND
Attn: James. T. Kirk, Cpt. USS Enterprise
Once again we are shocked at your continued violations of time
protocols and your frequent flaunting of edict 45899.68.45
regarding deliberate forking of the time/space continuum despite
substantial evidence that these apparent paradoxes do indeed iron
themselves out in the different facets of the multiverse. Until
we know more about these potential effects, we severely condemn
this latest breach of protocol.
We do understand that once you found the miraculously preserved
digital archives of Dr. Sean Shrum (circa 21st century Earth
United States of America) there was some problem deciphering
their contents, despite the best efforts of S.O. Spock and
your shipboard computer.
Normally, had their contents been deliberately encrypted we
understand you could have used the latest quantum computing
techniques to crack the code. But, since Dr. Shrum chose to use a
data format that had been lost in the winds of time, decipherment
proved impossible -- especially since we had no idea what sort of
information was stored in his archives. Only his reputation based
on the surviving seventeen cults spawned from various
interpretations of his purported discoveries survived well enough
to even enable us to recall his name.
Usually in these cases, especially beginning in the 21st century,
data formats were specified in "Unicode" plain text markup
formats, one of the prevalent extant examples being so-called
"XML". We can reliably infer from the works of his contemporaries
who chose to save their compendia in XML that he was the
exception in this regard.
Nevertheless, the apparent loss of his archives serve as no
excuse to travel back in time, seduce the man's wife, and pummel
the data format out of him under duress. Our top researchers are
still classifying the various continued bifurcations in the
multiverse -- we can only assume that our colleagues in the other
realities, where they still survive, are doing likewise.
In the meantime, despite your methodology, we find his varied
works to be extremely interesting -- algorithmically useful at
best, anthropologically fascinating at worst. Please port his
works to your nearest Perl 5678.6.8 Planetary cache.
Fleet Commander Larry Wall XXIX
STARFLEET COMMAND OUT