preserving / ressurecting old docs?

From: Brian Chase <>
Date: Sat Jun 23 00:34:14 2001

On Fri, 22 Jun 2001, Tony Duell wrote:
> > On Fri, 22 Jun 2001, Sellam Ismail wrote:

> OK, which would you rather have to read? A book (printed in English)
> written about 150 years ago, or a magnetic tape from an Elliot 803?
> Point is, as we've argued many times before, digitally-recorded data has
> a much shorter life than dead trees (both due to degredation of the
> magnetic media and the fact that the equipment used to read it becomes
> obsolete).

I think you mean to say "digital media" has a much shorter life than dead
trees. And even that's debatable depending on the quality of paper and
inks used.

As long as you have a process in place to keep migrating the digital
information off of generation "N" digital media onto generation "N+1"
digital media, say every five years. You'll be able to keep exact copies
of it forever. The main thing is to not let the process lapse.

A fairly good practical example of this actually working can be found by
looking no further than the DNA of a species. Modern homo sapiens have
been around for a lot longer than books. The species has managed to stick
around this long by passing it's DNA along from individual to individual
over many tens of thousands of years. It's not a perfect example, given
that the process involves blending DNA from two sources, but the "copy and
pass on" mechanism obviously is one that works. Digital media should only
be looked at as a temporary container.

The main weakness here is that if the copying process breaks down (i.e.
someone lapses and doesn't copy the tapes in some reasonable amount of
time), then the information won't be passed on.

Received on Sat Jun 23 2001 - 00:34:14 BST

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