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Re: "Digital Dark Age"



At 07:35 AM 2/10/1999 EST, dt fletcher wrote:
>In a message dated 2/10/99 3:25:45 AM Pacific Standard Time,
>rbruno@INTERNETCOM.COM.BR writes:

><< How about the extinct 5 3/4" floppy disk, that was the standard ten years
> ago, and now is virtually impossible to be readed, because there's no
> machine that can do that? >>

>What about them? To compare a 5 3/4" floppy to a CD-ROM is silly.  I am
>talking about the winner in the digital storage wars not the losers.  The
>prevailing logic appears to be:   Since digital storage mediums can become
>obsolete this means that all digital storage mediums will by neccesity become
>obsolete.  Nonsense.

But the problem with this theory is that (a) you're assuming that all
important data will be stored on a "non-losing" format and (b) that data
will be retrieved before its medium has degraded. There have been studies
indicating that a CD's life span is perhaps about 30 years (although no
one's really sure if this is correct yet). One of the nasties about digital
storage is that a small degradation can make an entire archive completely
unreadable.

Records of our present society are rather ephemeral. I've been working on a
biography of Beatrice Warde (1900-69) for the past few years. One of the
things that keeps occuring to me as I'm writing this is that if she had
lived, say, 1969-2038 instead, many of the records that I'm relying upon
would never have existed, and if she had lived 1800-69, I would have a much
easier time trying to track down her life. Witness the general decline in
letter writing: I know that I personally have nearly every personal letter
that I've been sent for the last 20 years. I've kept almost none of the
e-mail. And records of phone calls are non-existent.

-dh

---
Don Hosek           dhosek@quixote.com    Quixote Digital Typography
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