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Re: [AV Media Matters] Long-term presentation: digital

Long-term preservation and distribution of human activity must be thought
of as a goal. It is obviously an achievable goal given today's
technology. Poking fun at old storage methods, such as paintings on cave
walls and stone tablets might be humorous but it doesn't change the fact
they have stood the test of time. Another example is the British
Parliament. Some in the House of Commons suggested they abandon parchment
to preserve UK laws and adopt high quality linen / rag paper. After much
debate it was decided to continue using parchment because it has lasted
1000 years. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Sharing parchment laws or
cave paintings with the with the world is simply a matter of scanning
them and posting them on the Web. It was suggested we need a  happy
medium between preservation and access. I don't agree. We can have both.
Preservation and access must be broken down to it's components.
1. Storage media
2. Storage method
3. Access method
Certainly a technology dependent system could be built and supported for
centuries to meet all three requirements, but so far it has not. Why?
Technology is not the solution to the problem, technology IS the problem.
Can anyone guarantee digital, the technology of the day, will be relevant
1000 years from now, or 100 years from now??

Also there may be some fun in dwelling on the negatives of motion picture
film, but it doesn't change one very important fact. Media life and
access life are the same. There was a recent discovery in Milwaukee. When
sorting out the belongings of a deceased  WW II veteran, they found 2
hours and 40 minutes of inner circle home movies of Hitler stored in his
attic for 50 to 55 years. They were made in the 1930's. They have since
been converted to the technology of the day, video, and the film is now
stored in a bank vault just waiting to be converted to the AV technology
of the 22 nd century.

Russ Burkel

On Thu, 28 Sep 2000 12:08:55 -0700 guenter@uclink4.berkeley.edu writes:
>I think the general tone of desperation about the state of
>digital options is not entirely warranted. I just heard a
>presentation at MCN in Las Vegas by Dave Wilson, Eastman Kodak,
>Permanence Institute, and basically the gist of it was that the
>so-called "human
>decipherable objects" as represented by all kinds of different
>media have a fairly short lifespan, too. It sounded to me like in
>order to ensure their longevity, analog media has to be managed
>cared for (climate control etc) with a comparable amount of
>as their digital brethren (refreshing to new storage medium &
>migration to new file formats).
>If we despair, let's despair about the fact that nothing can be
>for eternity, neither analog nor digital information :-). Stone
>may have the best shot at survival in the long term - however, in
>mind, an archive's, library's or museum's mission is to achieve a
>happy medium between preservation and access. Stone slabs seem to
>rate fairly poorly from that perspective. Compare the
>of access to a stone slab with the possibilities of access to a
>networked digital resource, and I think you'll be very hard
>to make the stone slab argument again. Over the course of the
>lifespan of the stone slab, how many select few people will be
>to see it as compared to the potentially unlimited number of
>who'll have access to the digital resource in its admittedly
>I think a cautious assessment of the lifespan of any digital
>is definitely warranted. However, the more I learn about the
>preservation of physical objects, the less inclined I am to panic
>over the challenges of the digital medium.
>Anyway, just my little rant on the general topic of conservation
>the digital realm. If you weren't enlightened, I hope you were at
>least entertained :-)
>>Mike said:
>> Perhaps we need to start carving bits into stone slabs or clay
>>I already suggested this and got no takers.  I believe the density
>has to be improved before archivists will buy into a new technology like
>>Jim Wheeler
>Guenter Waibel
>Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive
>Digital Media Developer http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/
>Digital Imaging SIG Chair, MCN
>Phone 	510-643-8655
>Fax 	510-642-4889

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