Let's develop an open-source media archive standard

From: Vintage Computer Festival <vcf_at_siconic.com>
Date: Wed Aug 11 16:24:39 2004

On Wed, 11 Aug 2004, Jules Richardson wrote:

> > I still don't like it. As Roger M. pointed out, what will the binary data
> > look like after it's been paraded through several different platforms?
> Well going back to the image example, it's like trying to ftp a TIFF
> image to a remote server in ASCII mode. It's going to mess up, but
> anyone with any smarts either knows not to transfer in that way because
> it's going to mess up, or they inspect the data and realise that it
> can't be transferred as ASCII. If people didn't learn by being told
> something, common sense, or from their mistakes, then we probably all
> wouldn't still be here :-)

Hmmm. Ok, stupid me. Several years back, I transferred all my stored
e-mails (both received and sent) from the ISP I used to use to my own
server. I gzipped the files so they would be smaller and then used FTP to
transfer them over. I then deleted the original files and went on my
merry business.

Sometime later, when I wanted to access those files, they would not
unzip. It was then that I realized I ftp'd them in ASCII mode. DOH!


So I'm not terribly smart, but I'm no George Bush either. I forgot that I
had to put FTP into binary mode before transferring those files.

This sort of error can propagate quite easily. I'd rather not rely on
people to remember to switch to binary mode when they transfer large
archives of imaged media. And I'd hate for an archive that was
transferred this way to become a defacto archive of a specific set of
important imaged data, only to find out years or decades down the road
that they are completely useless because the binary data is missing its
eight bit.

> Same goes for any line termination issues; archivists would not be daft
> enough to transfer data from one medium to the next and then destroy the
> original (or if they did destroy the original, they'd be damned sure
> that the copy matched the original *exactly* first). Whilst the average

Haha. You're assuming everyone is as competent as you are :)

> person does make silly mistakes and then typically learns from them, I'd
> expect anyone preserving or dealing with historical data to have a few
> more smarts about them in the first place!

Or not. And at any rate, this specification should be as foolproof as is
possible. You can't assume that everyone who's going to be making these
archives or maintaining them is going to be smart. You just can't. The
specification should be as robust as possible, and then more so.

> All a question of providing lots of choices whilst keeping within a
> strict specification so that people can choose what suits them
> personally I suppose, whilst knowing that the data should still be
> usable in the future...

As I said, I would implement a binary data tag, but would strongly
discourage its use.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger                http://www.vintage.org
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Received on Wed Aug 11 2004 - 16:24:39 BST

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