18.288 loss of information

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 07:08:29 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 288.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: "Lisa L. Spangenberg" (17)
         Subject: Re: 18.276 loss of information and clarity of

   [2] From: Michael Hart <hart_at_pglaf.org> (47)
         Subject: Re: 18.276 loss of information and clarity of

         Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 06:42:55 +0100
         From: "Lisa L. Spangenberg" <lisa_at_digitalmedievalist.com>
         Subject: Re: 18.276 loss of information and clarity of expression

>The average age of a CD is supposed to
>be twenty-years? Aren't CD's about 20 years on the market now? I'm not
>aware of any massive failures, so I wonder how the average lifetime was

I have cd-roms from 1989 and 1990 that are no longer readable because the
layers have separated. These are professional CDs, not one-offs.

I have several "one-offs," made as interim copies for various multimedia
CDs in 1994 and 1995 that are also unreadable--for various reasons; layer
separation, dye fades, and even fungus (much like the "laser rot" that
affected certain laser disks).

Lisa L. Spangenberg | Digital Medievalist
Ye knowe ek, that in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thousand yere, and wordes tho
That hadden pris, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem, and yit they spake hem so.
-- Chaucer Troilus and Criseyde Book II ll. 22-25--
         Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 06:43:37 +0100
         From: Michael Hart <hart_at_pglaf.org>
         Subject: Re: 18.276 loss of information and clarity of expression
The solution is simple. . .put the data out there for the public.
This has been proposed by some if the great names in computing,
and has actually been proven to work for data retention.
Here is an actual example from the history of Project Gutenberg:
Once I pulled an all nighter to put three eBooks up for download,
carefully backing them up on three systems about 3,000 miles apart,
but when I woke up I found that all 6 copies were gone.  Subsequent
searches failed to ever find out where they went, perhaps it was a
hacker just showing off.
I was disheartened to say the least, confronted with another one of
those all nighters to make up for the loss, something I just was not
up to at the moment.  So I thought about it a while, and then sent
out a message to the general Project Gutenberg lists asking if any
of our people had downloaded these three books in the few minutes
or few hours they had been available.
Sure enough, I got my lost books back a few minutes later, and then
just put them back on our three sites, being careful to save yet one
more copy in a secret location.
For those of you who have privacy issues, I suggest an internally
secure version of the same thing, have your trusted people copy.
If you don't trust anyone, you have created a serious problem
for yourself, and you will have to do some backup research,
and also make sure your format stays available, as was the
problem in many of these situations that got so much press.
If you don't put things in strange formats, and don't insist
on only keeping them in locked down situations, you won't be
in this situation to this degree.
Nice To Hear From You!
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Received on Fri Oct 15 2004 - 02:20:38 EDT

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