Data Archival (OT Long)

From: Dwight Elvey <>
Date: Tue Dec 12 12:45:24 2000

Sellam Ismail <> wrote:
> Will there even be computers in 8,000 years? We've only had them for 50,
> and look how far they've come. Will they even resemble what we consider
> today to be computers? You can make an analogy such as "well, the
> Egyptians had papyrus and a stylus, and we have paper and pen, so
> computers will be fundamentally the same." But this analogy just does not
> apply when it comes to computers and electronics. And then you throw
> genetic engineering into the mix and your head starts to hurt.

 The biggest problem seems to be "computer readable media".
while I would suspect that the general term of "computer" will
still exist, the thought that someone will have a CD player
or even a machine that can except a IDE hard drive, in even
100 years, is in question. Human readable material continues
to work reasonably well because the basic mechanism hasn't made
changes that would obsolete the media. This isn't true with
computer media. If you are looking for something to put
into a time vault, you need to consider how one would interpret
the information at a later date.
 There is no question in my mind that this is not the case that
we are dealing with today. We are dealing with how to propagate
the information into new technologies. It seems to me that the
best way to do that is to move the information to the next
generation of storage media as soon as it becomes available.
The original media should be kept for cross checking and
original reference as long as there is a viable method of retrieving
the information from that media. Keeping it after that point
would be based on historical or other criteria.
 In some sense, things like simulators should also need to follow
this same line to ensure that there is a method of interpreting
things like machine code for machines that not only become
obsolete but become non-repairable through lack of parts.
Simulators should be written in as simple a basic ( not BASIC )
language as possible to preserve them. The languages used should
have human readable source code and be easily defined in terms
of simple non-ambiguous operations that would be coded at
the basic machine level with higher level constructs defined
in terms of those low level definitions only. There are only
two languages, that I know of, that are in current use, that could
fit this requirement.
Received on Tue Dec 12 2000 - 12:45:24 GMT

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