preserving / ressurecting old docs?

From: Lawrence LeMay <>
Date: Fri Jun 22 14:37:52 2001

> On Fri, 22 Jun 2001, Brian Chase wrote:
> > > I completely recommend AGAINST destroying the original. Not only is it in
> > > some cases a historical artifact on its own, if the digital copy were ever
> > > to be lost then you're SOL.
> >
> > I'm against the idea of destroying the original as well, but I think
> > your point about losing the digital copy is pretty silly. It's
> > digital... just make lots of copies and spread them around. I'd say
> > it's a lot more dangerous to only have the original.
> Brian, this has been discussed at great length before (perhaps you weren't
> around then). Hard copies of documents have survived thousands of years.
> Digital magnetic media has only been around for at most 25-30 years. We
> don't know what's going to happen to that data 50, 100, 500 years from
> now.

Those DIGITAL handbooks werent exactly printed on vellum, you know. It was
cheap paper, some containing acids, and probably spend 15-20 years in
computer labs with old technology laserprinters that were spitting
Ozone into the air every few minutes, etc.

What we're discussing is making the information in the books available
to all that need it. A manual that is old, the paper is so orange that
its becomming difficult to read the pages, and the glue binding the
cheaply made book is breaking up so I dont dare open the book very often,
well, such a book is next to useless. What IS useful is getting the
best scans possible, so everyone can print off a modern copy of it,
on acid free paper, and have it bound into a new book.

I dont believe anyone is suggesting that once the pages of the book are
scanned, that the old pages should be burned or discarded. Placing them
in a bag to protect them from dust and Ozone, seems the most likely
scenario. And then the pages are all ready for sometime in the future
when new technology makes the effort of rescanning the pages desirable.

Now, you might say that not all books are in that bad of shape right now.
But, if you know that its just a matter of time, a few decades at best,
before the books will start showing serious signs of decay, then why not
attempt to get the best quality scans now, while you can and while some
of us are still young... And while many of us might be able to use the
information contained in these books.

Many of these useful books arent exactly rare. If you havent seen the
opportunities to buy at least a DOZEN copies of a PDP8 small computer
handbook in the past 6 months, its because you werent looking. And they
are still available in many university libraries. But that doesnt
help make the information as easily and generally available as scanning
and printing working copies does.

So, its a tradeoff. Do the needs of the many, outweight the needs of the
few? Should the scribe that originally argued against making copies of
The Bible, because the sacred pages of the original might be damaged,
should that scribe have been listened to? Probably not.

-Lawrence LeMay
Received on Fri Jun 22 2001 - 14:37:52 BST

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