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Re: List changes (actually saving email)

At 09:17 PM 5/8/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Sam Lanham wrote:
>> At 09:40 AM 5/8/97 -0500, you wrote:
>> >I'm surprised at the number of people who print out email. Why do you
>> >do this?

To begin with, Harmon, I was just answering your expressed puzzlement about
why I (and I speak for myself only) print out some of my e-mail (a very
small amount actually, particularly in view of Peter's exceptional
archiving). I was not and am not trying to convince you that you should
print out *your* e-mail.

But,having said that, I will add a few comments.

>> 1. I just naturally like the print medium better than the electronic
>     So do I, for reading fiction, poetry, etc.

        This is just a matter of personal aesthetic preference. I read some
poetry, a good bit of legal and other technical material, and a lot of
history and philosophy. Print and paper is an easier medium for me to read
and I like to make notes in margins and text and this, for me, is easier
with the paper. But, as I said, it is mainly a matter of personal
>> 2. I never had my notebook crash---

>   Well, I've had the roof leak and destroy a whole pile of notebooks,
>back in the days before I had a computer, and did all my writing with
>pen and paper.

 Sorry about your roof leak, but we're talking about two different things
here. I'm refering to inherent and internal-to-the-system problems.  You're
refering to external calamity. The rain storm and the roof leak, lightning
strikes and tornadoes all can ruin books and computers, print and digital
materials. Potential danger to information in both media can be reduced by
remote copies of either one. (This is also the fallacy in the analogy with
the  Alexandrian library, cited by another poster. That library consisted
of unique manuscripts, not widely disseminated printed books. There was
little "back-up.") I've had a hard drive and floppies go bad from internal
problems but my printouts don't have that potential.
>> 3. My printout on good paper will physically outlast the current electronic
>> media.
>> 4. My printout on good paper will be easily accessible to my great
>> grandchildren without concern for obsolescence of the media or the
>    These are the standard fallacies I keep hearing around libraries
>(I'm a librarian) when the subject of preservation comes up.

I'm not sure why you label these problems fallacies. I'm neither a chemist,
physicist, nor computer scientist but the papers I read (such as the one
cited by Phil Karn) all convince me (and the librarians where I work) that
the limitations are significant.  In the best of all electronic worlds with
all the proper equipment, adequate funding,  and a staff with time to do
so, copying will take place. But a lot of material isn't in those
state-of-the-art facilities, including my e-mail. Meanwhile, my printouts
and most of the books I collect will go through time without the necessity
for copying, at least for a long, long time.

And then there's the problem of my great-great grandchildren. My "stuff"
will probably end up in an attic somewhere and someday one of my
descendants will be poking around and find a diskette and a notebook of my
printouts. Maybe at the Library of Congress or some other major institution
(yours, I guess) they will have the technology to read the antique disk.
But won't it be simpler for my kin just to open the notebook? Unless we
posit illiteracy brought on by a return to exclusively audial communication
the matter of immediate access clearly favors the print-outs.

This has gotten too long, so I will only refer to the matter of
portability, a problem for digitality which I'm sure will be reduced in
time but which at the moment also favors the print-out.

I'm not trying to convince you or anyone that you should, let alone must,
print out your e-mail. Just giving you the reasons why I do.


>Harmon Seaver hseaver@xxxxxxxxx hseaver@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>"Facts an' facts, an' t'ings an' t'ings: dem's all a lotta fockin'
>bullshit. Hear me! Dere is no truth but de one truth, an' that is
>de truth of Jah Rastafari."   -- Sir Robert Marley, 1978
>Copyright, Harmon F. Seaver, 1997. License to distribute this post is
>available to Microsoft for US$1,000 per instance, or local equivalent.
Sam Lanham (slanham@xxxxxxxx)

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