[Table of Contents] [Search]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Digital Domesday Book lasts 15 years not 1000

           See The Exhibition Online, And Order Your Catalog.

In a message dated 3/7/02 10:40:32 PM Pacific Standard Time,
angelspawn@EARTHLINK.NET writes:

<< Being always mindful of magnets, voltage spikes, lightening, and EMPs
 (electromagnetic pulses) which can completely wipe out your data without
 chance of retrieval within seconds (unless it is an optical storage device
 which can still be melted or otherwise mechanically damaged). Just a happy
 little thought form a computer geeks' wife.

 Angela >>

Sure Angela, buth that is not the type of endurance that I was referring to.
Instead, the idea is that some technologies can last a longtime as a viable
technology, ie, not all technology is destine to become obsolete.   One
example would be the QWERTY keyboard. This standard keyboard pattern, by any
measure, shouldl be long obsolete, but it continues..  Chances are, just
about everyone will still be using the QWERTY keyboard as long as people have
a need to use keyboards.   Thus, it would be correct to say that the QWERTY
keyboard is a longlasting and enduring technology.

The reason that i'm trying to make this  point is that it is common for folks
to make the statement that ALL technology is destine to become obsolete, and
especially for ANY form of digital technology, in a short period of time.

Because digital storage technology requires some form of machine technology
to read it; if the technology behind the choosen storage technology becomes
obsoleter, it can become difficult or even impossible to retrive the data.
So, technical obsolesence is a very valid concern.

There have been many cautionay tales about poor folks who stored all their
data on 9-track tapes and Winchester drives, 8" floppy disks, and, to their
horror, can no longer read their data.  Unfortunately, these otherwise valid,
cautionary tales are being used to transform the correct warning of: beware
that digital technology CAN become obsolete, to, the incorrect warning of:
beware ALL digital technology quickly becomes obsolete.

My own cautionary tale: When I did the conservation on the archives of the
Crosman Corp., I consulted with a professional photo conservator about the
many 8" x 10" BW glossies.  I took all of his advice about mylar folders and
special envelopes and boxes. But, I didn't take his advice when he protested
(rather loudly in fact) about not bothering with doing a CD of the pictures.
He said, "terrible idea, it will just become obsolete."

Well, after preserving the photos and returning them to the company. I
proceeded to sell several hundred copies of all the photos on a CD to
interested collectors around the world.   Because of that, I can rest assured
that these historically important photos willl never be lost.   What happened
to the originals?  Due to a management change, they were all sent to the
dumpster.  I ain't kiddin'.   A related note: t the World Trade Center was
apparently used as an archive. I saw on TV where a firefighter found his
graduation-class photo in the rubble.   I'll bet that those archives weren't
digitized and stored on CDs in alternative locations.

To be sure that my CD can be read by anyone (MAC or PC), all the files are
either JPG, PDF (Acrobat reader included), or TXT files.  This CD is
completely readable on every computer ever made  that includes some form of a
CD-ROM drive.   Sure, it will take a machine to read the CD, but there are
now billions of these machines and billions more to be made. Note that the
cost of a standard CD drive (read only) is less than the cost of a single

Yet, Angela, there are people who seriously state that, in just a couple
years, it will be impossible to find any of these billions of machines!?
They also seem to think that these machines, which we build in the billions
today, are so arcane that nobody will be able to figure out how to build, let
alone operate, one of them in the future!?   And why are they so sure of
this?  Well, of course, because the 8-track tape became obsolete (?).

I thoroughly enjoyed a CSPAN segment on the Library of Congress and their
one-of-a-kind collection.  The head of the library answered the question
about digitizing the collection.  He said that nothing has been done because
there is a concern about standards. Great. Terrorists make a direct hit on
the library and we lose our history because people are afraid of digital

Dean Fletcher

            BOOK_ARTS-L: The listserv for all the book arts.
      For subscription information, the Archive, and other related
            resources and links go to the Book_Arts-L FAQ at:

        To unsubscribe, type the following into the message body:
 Or click here <mailto:listserv@listserv.syr.edu?body=unsub book_arts-l>

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]