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Re: Bridges to the past; links to the future

On Sat, 10 May 1997, Christopher Hicks wrote:

> A lot of that stuff came out of garages anyway.  I know plenty of people
> without degrees who would happily build that stuff.  And those people who
> have degrees who could build these things, don't have math or eletronics
> degrees.  (Some have engineering degrees, though.)
Yes, they can produce the hardware, but can they reproduce a zip drive's
internal operating system, produce the silicon chip to operate it and
calculate the algorythm to uncrush the data on the disk, all in their
garage? I think not, you would need half the technology and facilities of
Silicon Valley.

> > At the moment you can find drives, but thats scavenging, think of a time
> > when there is nothing left to scavenge.
> I do, that's why I buy these old things and keep them working.
But even those will go! Even if you store them against future use, they
will deteriorate. From the moment things are made, they begin to
deteriorate, its just a question of how long till its junk. There will
come a time when you will have nothing, even though you have maticulously
collected everything.

Besides with all the drives, disks, motherboards, interfaces, monitors,
operating systems, programmes, master disks for....etc and
ad nauseum, you are taking up just as much room as you would have if
you had printed it all out. And that is what the strive for digitisation
is all about in the first place, saving space through minaturisation.

> > I know a company whose data is held on an ICL Card Random Access Memory
> > Deck. To my knowledge, there is only one working one of those in the
> > world, and the curator won't allow it to be used because he is scared
> > that it will fall to pieces. If its so easy perhaps you could make one
> > for me!
> Do you have any specs?  Will the curator allow a team to 'study' the
> existing one under some academic or archaeological auspices?
No, the guy is a turd! he won't let any of us "Techno-Weenies" within ten
feet of it. ICL no longer have the specs for it either.

> > You forget that digital storage forms are so quickly invented and so
> > quickly become obsolete.
> Which is why keeping your stuff on current media is an important thing for
> archivists to do.
But can't afford because of budgets etc..

> > Archivists transfering data to a new medium may very well be
> > transferring it to a lemon.
> So, you buy enough lemon drives to transfer it to an orange drive when
> that becomes hip.
At what cost each time?

> > Copying and recopying between 'in-vogue' storage mechanisms has one
> > serious disadvantage, MONEY!!!  Archives are not made of it! it's not a
> > case of betraying trust, its a case of being able to afford it.
> Archives seem capable of spending millions on buying new air-conditioned
> buildings.
We only get things like that when politicians want to be re-elected! and
it usually means that in order to afford it, processes which are usually
hidden from the public such as conservation, duplication, adequate
staffing gets cut.

> > Dare I go into the life expectancy of digital media!
> Sure.
> > CDs according to the manufacturers have a life expectancy of 200 years.
> > It's absolute rubbish! recordable CDs can deteriorate enough to destroy
> > data in 5 years, and commercial CDs, well I have an example that is
> > unusable after 2 years.
> Single examples are not terribly meaningful.  I have notebooks from my
> younger days that are now rubbish due to water damage.  I wouldn't use
> that example to decide whether the world should use paper ornot.
I have more than single examples, the 2 year is the quickest destroyed
one though. What decade were your younger days? I still have my
schoolbooks from the early 70s, but my MA thesis (on CDr) is dead, and
that was turned in in 1992.

> There are many organizations out there that have the technology and would
> be willing to contribute services to worthy causes.  Everybody doesn't
> need a CD writer.  (Well, maybe the do, but that's another story.)
I haven't found an organisation yet that didn't want to charge us for
copying, and its not flamboyant enough for lottery grant funding. All you
have to show at the end are a pile of disks.

> BTW - how long has it been since you've checked your stramer tapes for
> errors?
It costs me 1.95 for each streamer tape. I duplicate every 2 years. Thats
expensive enough, but I'm OK.

> > Be realistic, any mechanism of information storage that is not directly
> > accessible to humans is not practicable.
> Puh-leeze.  Comparing the storage costs alone for significant amounts of
> data makes many of the electronic solutions the only realistic long term
> solution.
No way! A duplicated paper document can be stored long term, even
newspaper can be cryogenically frozen for centuries without problems, and
we will only have to transfer to new media when the language becomes
obsolete. You could be talking milennia here. Digital data needs
transfering every time a new storage system comes along that renders the
present one obsolete. According to a friend who works for IBM this is on
average every 2.5 years, and speeding up.

> > If we have to rely on a machine interface we are being held to ransom by
> > the manufacturers who don't care about preserving for posterity, but
> > forcing you to continually upgrade and help them turn a quick profit.
> I hate the computer industry as much as the next person.  But many geeks
> exist on the fringes that can solve these problems.
But they don't have the industrial back up, except at extortionate costs
for tooling up a factory to make a one-off.

> If you have a few
> working drives, then no one is holding you ransom.
But only for the time that the drives work (I think I said that somewhere

> I put my asbestos bath robe on first thing every morning.  This list
> doesn't compare to the IETF lists for flaming.  (Sorry.)  I would guess
> book people have a rational (almost Japanese?) fear of fire.  :-)
Farenheit 451! You aught to try my music list ;)


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