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MMD > Archives > January 2006 > 2006.01.13 > 02Prev  Next


Archival Media for Digital Data
By Mark Kinsler

[ Peter Neilson wrote in 060112 MMDigest:

> The article recommends magnetic tape as having a storage life of
> 30 to 100 years.  Who can assure, though, that the equipment to read
> old magnetic tapes will be available?  The 100-year-old rolls that
> we have in our collections are generally still readable, and in some
> instances quite playable.

I certainly hope so.  We want our rolls and other software to last
forever, or at least a large portion thereof, but if you have a type
A++ personality like me perhaps a more philosophical attitude might
be in order.

As much as we may strive and test and theorize, we can never know
the outcome of our efforts in this life.  Things wear out, accidents
happen, attitudes change, history intervenes, and that wretched
polyurethane foam that everyone thought was gonna be great turns into
black gum.

I know that I'm speaking to my betters here; people who restore
computing machinery made of leather and wood know a lot about what
lasts and what doesn't.  But perhaps in the midst of the eternal quest
for robust materials we may find some respite by recognizing and
accepting that almost everything falls apart eventually.

Mark Kinsler - punching holes into sheets of bronze anyway.

P.S.: My music teacher told me yesterday that the only reason we have
the Brandenburg Concertos was that someone noticed that there were
musical notes on the paper they were wrapping around some meat.


(Message sent Fri 13 Jan 2006, 16:04:28 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Archival, Data, Digital, Media

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