evolution of misinformation (was: Computer Museum opens in San Diego

From: Derek Peschel <dpeschel_at_u.washington.edu>
Date: Sun Sep 5 00:47:05 1999

I wrote, and Fred Cisin replied:

> > A display case shows the progression of storage disks, starting with
> > one from 1965 that's the size of a tractor-trailer tire. It held 2.5
> > megabytes of data and had to be sandblasted to be erased.
> > Had to be sandblasted to be erased? Huh??

> We've seen that particular bit of silliness before. Once an authoritative
> statement of wrong information is made, others will follow, and if/when
> challenged merely refer to the authority.

I assumed that by "particular bit of silliness" you meant "the 'erased by
sandblasting' idea" but after a little thought, I realized that maybe you
just meant "the spreading of a patently false statement".

I wonder how such a ridiculous idea (about sandblasting, I mean) could have
gotten started in the first place. Do you have any details?

> Quite a while back, we discussed some systems for LONG-term data storage.
> Stonehenge was [jokingly] mentioned as being a hard-sectored long term
> data storage device. (probably stationary media with moving head)
> Assuming a high data density stored as surface markings or pitting,
> sandblasting WOULD be the needed method for erasing surface data. How
> long before our silly speculation finds its way into the computer
> histories, and later generations are told that the druids invented
> hard-sectored disks?

Well, you either want to prevent the correct information from disappearing,
or prevent the incorrect information from spreading. It's too late to
retract the joke, so you have to vigorously insist that it was a joke and
hope that your correction lasts longer than the joke itself.

-- Derek
Received on Sun Sep 05 1999 - 00:47:05 BST

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