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RE: [AV Media Matters] Saving the folk heritage

Steve Smolians very long posting asks a number of important questions, and
is also focused on the materials that are very near and dear to my own
concerns, traditional, folk and vernacular musics recorded in the field (ie,
mostly unique).  I would like to make comment on one or two (especially as
he cites some of my work on CD testing, I think).

1.  The tests I carry out question the basis of the life tests not on the
quality of the media, but on the basis of extrapolating a life span using
arrenhius applied to accelerated aging using temperature and humidity when
the mode of measuring failure is optical.  I suggest (drawing on the
expertise of people who expertise and experience in this area is great) that
it is too complex to produce a figure that is accurate.  However, and this
is the most important part, I think the tests all show that the life span of
best quality CD-R is such that it should exceed the availability of CD
replay equipment.  Format obselescence is our biggest problem.

Which brings me to the second point I'd like to address

2.  As Steve says, there is no point waiting around for the audio archival
messiah, but there is a great need to plan for the audio messiah's second
(and third and fourth) coming.  We are now in a situation where we not only
expect to transfer our collections from one format to another, we are
actually able to do it with little or no effect on the information.  So we
should plan to transfer to an adequate standard for the future.  Making a CD
of a BWF (or wav or aiff file) is no more complex than making an audio CD,
is probably faster, and allows higher bit and sampling rates and will allow
us to transfer those CDs to the carrier of the future.  I would recomend to
anyone setting up to do this that they use as high a standard as they can
afford to future proof their transfer.  Storage costs are hardly likely to
be significant on the CD-R compared to the cost of actually doing the
transfer.  So get it right now and it wont have to be done again in a decade
or three's time.

I strongly support Steve's statement that any transfer made should be an
accurate representation of the original, noise and all.  The better the
quality of the noise, the easier to clean it up for listening copies with
technology that has yet to be invented.

I'll leave my response there, a dislocated finger playing hack e sack with
my daughter makes typing painful!!!


Kevin Bradley
Manager: Digital and Audio Preservation Resources
National Library of Australia
Canberra   ACT 2600

Tel:  +61-2 6262-1381
Fax: + 61-2 6262-1653
Email: kbradley@nla.gov.au
NLA home page: http://www.nla.gov.au
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine

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