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RE: [AV Media Matters] The esoteric edge

Agreed. To quote Argentinian comic strip character Mafalda, "what's urgent
does not leave time for what's important."

Marcos Sueiro
Sound Specialist
312 344 7518
Visit the CBMR webpage: http://www.cbmr.org

>-----Original Message-----
>From: ggib@loc.gov [mailto:ggib@loc.gov]
>Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 1999 1:13 PM
>To: AV-Media-Matters@topica.com
>Subject: Re: [AV Media Matters] The esoteric edge
>I am in total agreement in principal with Jim Lindner's comments on
>the problems of going alone for a archival system/media, but I believe
>we must look at what I see to be the two options available:
>1. continual migration (as long as our budgets allow, with the hope
>that funding isn't cut at a time when the manufacturing world decides
>to completely drop the 'old' technology and all support and parts
>related to it) of data to new formats and/or systems at unpredictable
>cycles (seemingly forced by the manufacturing world primarily to gain
>higher profits), all of which are high tech, requiring proprietary
>technology and equipment with little or no backward compatibility;
>2. adoption of a technology for long-term preservation that meets
>data quality needs and would be relatively simple to build from
>scratch, requiring no proprietary data or systems, by a reasonably
>intelligent person.
>The choices here are complicated by the quantities of machine based
>media now residing in collections.  For the 12,000 hours of audio
>recently sited, my guess is that --assuming minimal problems-- one
>would need 18,000 to 36,000 hours of staff time to transfer the
>collection, which runs out to something between 8.5 and 17 years of
>work!   Add to this the cost of new equipment and blank media
>(hopefully of reliable quality), as well as the facilities to house
>the operation and store the new media (and maybe keeping the original
>copy?) under recommended environmental conditions and with adequate
>security and the costs increase substantially.  If the collections
>involved are larger --say in the hundreds of thousands of hours, maybe
>even in the millions of hours-- the costs and logistics are
>Throw into this mix the uncertainties among almost all
>archivists/librarians whom I know of when their current holdings
>(analog or digital make no difference) must be copied to prevent loss
>of information and we have a real headache.
>Even if it is accepted that the self-monitoring-and-migrating digital
>archive comes about, I would bet that it will be at least another full
>media/equipment generation --and possibly as many as three or more--
>of manual data migration before such systems are readily available in
>all but the very largest collections, and the loading of those
>collections into such a system (assuming everything can be on- or
>near-line!) will take literally multi-centuries of work time!
>Forgetting the cost of equipment and space for same, the staff and
>media price for even one migration --much less the multiples that I
>believe are inevitable-- would seem to argue for some other
>Finally in this mix we have to consider the fact that the current
>market life of recordable media appears to be getting shorter and
>shorter (look at video formats and systems, for example), that the
>predictions of the media life expectancy and robustness are based
>entirely upon manufacturer's information whose accuracy or reliability
>are frequently in question, much less yet to be proved by an
>independent evaluation, and with data quality that is of questionable
>acceptability, VERSUS the practicality of a media (grooved analog
>discs for audio, for example) that have demonstrated in real-life
>cases that they last a hundred years or more, with data quality of an
>clear and understood level, and with established and proven standards,
>plus the fact that it can be played on relatively simple equipment
>which can be built --or even reinvented, if necessary-- from scratch
>without having an advanced  degree in electronics AND access to
>proprietary equipment and data, and the metal-part suggestion acquires
>ever greater enticement to me.
>I don't know if the 2d option is the answer for this or not.
>Regardless, the
>prospect of trying to find funds for even one --much less repeated--
>migration of the various data in our respective collections to media
>and systems simply because the manufacturer has abandoned the old is
>very, very frustrating.  Hopefully there are other alternatives which
>can be found.
>Gerry Gibson
>>>> Jim Lindner <jim@vidipax.com> 04/20 2:15 AM >>>
>Perhaps it is NAB exhaustion that has framed this comment, and
>it is seeing in just a few hours many new vendors and technologies...
>BUT I have some major reservations about using esoteric solutions for
>archival applications - even if the desired goal is "perpetuity".
>it is interesting to conjure schemes for the "ultimate preservation
>format" as an academic exercise - I think that really considering
>it is entirely another matter.  Time and time again people in the
>archival community have learned with great pain what it is like to
>an unsupported format.  Whether it is an early audio format or a more
>recent video format from a vendor that went out of business, it is
>that obscure or one off formats, while well intentioned, become a
>preservation nightmare in a relatively short period of time.
>Quite some time ago I read Carl Sagan's book about the Voyager disk
>what was involved in providing essentially a Rosetta stone to playing
>back this disk - potentially from another civilization or
>many light years from now. In this case the goal was indeed
>for perpetuity - but considering such a venture for more earthly use
>quite another story.  One could make a very strong argument that for
>archival records to exist (of whatever type) they need to have a
>mechanism for access - because access and preservation are two
>aspects of the ultimate survival of any record or object.  One
>the other is usually a problem waiting to happen. Preserving anything
>that requires a unique process or technology - no matter how "simple"
>for access is in my opinion a plan that is doomed.
>While using metal stampers is an interesting idea, as a practical
>matter, doing this process would make an institution totally alone
>a unique project that would require a unique technology for access. A
>machine population of 1 if you will.  While this may seem like a good
>idea now - consider what it will mean for someone 50 years from now.
>Who exactly is going to support this format that you are essentially
>inventing and how will it be possible to execute the system necessary
>access the records.  It is hard enough supporting formats that had
>hundreds or thousands of machines  sold during the window of the
>availability, but in this scenario you are creating a unique format
>the installed base of one system.  Consider the technological effort
>that will be necessary to play these unique format items - and also
>consider the cost of access in human terms as well as technical
>Would your institution seriously consider doing the work necessary to
>access such an object if you had one NOW that had been preserved in a
>similarly unique way 100 years ago? Think about it! VERY few would -
>think of the resources required -  the project would just go to the
>burner to be considered some other time when there would be less
>pressing matters  - and of course those days NEVER happen.
>No, I think that you need to consider human nature a bit and consider
>the real risk of being TOTALLY alone with a unique format.  I think
>it is a very bad idea - and understand I am a person with a company
>whose business it is to support obsolete formats!
>jim lindner
>Jim Lindner
>The Full Service Magnetic Media Restoration Company
>See our Web Site at www.vidipax.com
>212-563-1999 ext. 102

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