Dealing with the prospect of a “digital dark age” is one of the reasons why we built Emailchemy, but I’ve found that many have trouble with this new term because they may not be familiar with the definition of the original. The term “Dark Ages” refers to a time period between the fall of Rome and the Age of Enlightenment, and historians often referred to it as “dark” because there is little in the way of contemporary written history or literature.
The concept of the “Digital Dark Age” is similar, in that through the use of proprietary file formats we may be setting the stage for a future Dark Age because we will no longer have the legacy technology required to read those proprietary file formats.
Here are a couple articles that goes into some more detail, but if you search Yahoo! for “Digital Dark Age”, you’ll find plenty of resources: