Will our digital scriptures survive?

Well, i asked myself this question.
If you read or see a film about old scrolls that were found somewhere in
a tomb that survived the ages of time, how will our digital form of
papyrus do?

There is this movement to go digital, to buy everything in a digital
form or even physical form like a movie on a disc.
But will it last a thousand years like the scroll in the tomb? (the
lifespan of a dvd is around a 100 years)

Probably not. If our society will cease to exist one day and thousand
years later someone or something will dig out proof of our existence,
what will they find? The last tax return on a cd. Whats a cd?

Any form of storage is prone to fail over the years. A high technical
environment has to be provided to make it last. Parchment has a shorter
lifespan but still longer than a dvd. Think of the constitution which is
preserved well in the right conditions. Or any other highly valuable
document that relates to human history.

There is perhaps no solution to this problem or perhaps there will be a
genius way of preserving what humans thought and did.
For the normal human being it will be more like ‘it dies if i die’. Or
it survives long enough for the next generation to deceiver.

For movies we had tapes which after a while got replaced by DVD’s and
now are replaced by either BlueRay or/and digital download.

At the same time it makes you wonder if the internet were turned off one
day, everyone would be degraded to a mindless or at least less
knowledgeable being. Like R2D2 without a brain or memory.

So in the end the question remains if our computer technology will be
advancing to the stage that data is truly preserved (without acclimated
rooms).
This leads also to the question of open standards since a proprietary
standard will lock any retrieval out of question.

I count 2 stages of problems here.

  1. the medium that does not last
  2. a standard that lets other generation deceiver the data

On the other hand, if a disaster i striking, like a asteroid, it doesn’t
really matter anyway, or does it.
We found dinosaur bones even after these catastrophic collision took
place and still were able to read their structure.

In the end nothing beat the good old paper or better papyrus. Or perhaps
there is nothing worth preserving, which is an option too.


Windows, supports nearly all software, hardware, and viruses.
Remember the Rauhtage.

Well let me say that many years from now, there will be many grand parents that wished they had printed out more pictures. Like wise in the short run, many people have already discovered that committing their photographic memory’s to computers, prone to failure, viruses and all manner of malware is similar to throwing them all into a trash can. You may recover some, but many or even most will be lost forever. Of course, finding something of the quality of say the dead sea scrolls was just an exception to the rule were most recorded things were lost back then as well, as some seem to be now. But in the end, society as a whole has a lot more preservation going on than one might imagine. Still, you have to take note that you have to print out things such as photos if you really expect to look at them at a much later age and that committing these irreplaceable mementos to chance luck in some type of electronic device was not the best choice to have been made. Meteors or not, many will realize their mistake when it is too late to be fixed.

Thank You,

Unless you used special acid-free paper and store in a suitable environment, your paper copies are doomed too. Not to mention the colour dyes will fade. This is no joke. I have slides from my dad that are faded and because some colours faded first, the balance is wonky. Still haven’t decided what to do about recovery.

One of these days they’ll figure out how to encode data into DNA and then you can send your backups into the wild. Of course they may get eaten. :slight_smile:

You are 100% right ken, but I am not suggesting they be saved for posterity, but rather just long enough for you to be able to show them to your grand kids and perhaps even show on the Antiques Road show some day. lol! If you don’t even print them out at all, there will be no faded photos to see. That is what you must consider today.

Thank You,

You need offsite backups too. A house fire is going to consume DVDs and paper alike.

I already cannot read paper tapes, punch cards, 5.25 inch floppy disks. To read a 3.5 floppy, I have to take it to work. And to read an IDE hard drive, I have to take it to work (where there is still an ancient computer available).

I threw out some tape backups a while ago, because I probably wouldn’t be able to find hardware to read them.

Digital media will last, as long as they are copied to new media as the technology changes.

Maybe the National Archives

What survives depends on both choice and chance; we have lots of clay tablets from Babylon because they were baked hard and we have a lot of papyri from southern Egypt because they never got damp (in the rubbish tip at Oxyrhynchus). We also have an Archimedes palimpsest because someone overwrote the original but modern technlogy has enabled us to recover Archimedes’ original text. Other things have survived because people chose to copy them from papyrus scrolls to vellum books to paper books to digital format - but those survivals are because several different individuals chose to copy them.

I have lost some things I had on 5¼" disks because I didn’t think they were important enough to copy at the time but I have pretty well everything else I wanted to save because I have periodically (in the case of my move to Linux over a five year period) copied everything from earlier formats into the newer format.

I suspect that the same combination of choice and chance will determine what of our digital scriptures survives.

On 01/10/2012 04:26 AM, nrickert wrote:
> Digital media will last, as long as they are copied to new media as the
> technology changes.

there are charcoal drawings on cave walls thousands of years old…

every night before i go to sleep i transcribe everything i wrote during
the day to the wall of the cave under my home . . .

oh NO! cave in!! and no geographically remote backup exists…now what?


DD
openSUSE®, the “German Engineered Automobiles” of operating systems!

On 2012-01-10 04:26, nrickert wrote:
> Digital media will last, as long as they are copied to new media as the
> technology changes.

As with papyrus. Progress.


Cheers / Saludos,

Carlos E. R.
(from 11.4 x86_64 “Celadon” at Telcontar)

On 2012-01-10 03:56, jdmcdaniel3 wrote:
> Still, you have to take note that you have to print out things such as
> photos if you really expect to look at them at a much later age

And what technology do we use to print the photos? Ink jet? Laser? Because
printed material is perhaps even less durable than we think.


Cheers / Saludos,

Carlos E. R.
(from 11.4 x86_64 “Celadon” at Telcontar)

Also a fire will turn all those bits into ones, or maybe zeros. :slight_smile:

Yes, but printed media lasts longer than unprinted media does, every time if the original digital copy is lost or erased before it gets to be printed. This was the point of that statement.

Thank You,

On 2012-01-11 02:36, jdmcdaniel3 wrote:
>
> robin_listas;2428934 Wrote:
>> On 2012-01-10 03:56, jdmcdaniel3 wrote:
>>> Still, you have to take note that you have to print out things such as
>>> photos if you really expect to look at them at a much later age
>>
>> And what technology do we use to print the photos? Ink jet? Laser?
>> Because printed material is perhaps even less durable than we think.

>
> Yes, but printed media lasts longer than unprinted media does, every
> time if the original digital copy is lost or erased before it gets to be
> printed. This was the point of that statement.

Normal printed material, yes, very probably. I have books well over a
century old. A very good track record.

Will my printed pages from my laser survive me? It does not use ink. I have
seen toner been lost from page to protective plastic. Maybe it does not
stand heat as well, or cold. Or sun light.

That’s my point.


Cheers / Saludos,

Carlos E. R.
(from 11.4 x86_64 “Celadon” at Telcontar)

On 1/10/2012 6:58 PM, Carlos E. R. wrote:
> On 2012-01-11 02:36, jdmcdaniel3 wrote:
>>
>> robin_listas;2428934 Wrote:
>>> On 2012-01-10 03:56, jdmcdaniel3 wrote:
>>>> Still, you have to take note that you have to print out things such as
>>>> photos if you really expect to look at them at a much later age
>>>
>>> And what technology do we use to print the photos? Ink jet? Laser?
>>> Because printed material is perhaps even less durable than we think.
>
>>
>> Yes, but printed media lasts longer than unprinted media does, every
>> time if the original digital copy is lost or erased before it gets to be
>> printed. This was the point of that statement.
>
> Normal printed material, yes, very probably. I have books well over a
> century old. A very good track record.
>
> Will my printed pages from my laser survive me? It does not use ink. I have
> seen toner been lost from page to protective plastic. Maybe it does not
> stand heat as well, or cold. Or sun light.
>
> That’s my point.
>

I think it has something to do with the light. If you store any printed
media in well temperated environment and dark, it will last a long time.
Of course that does not include any catastrophe like whatever it is.
But book that are a 100 years old do show some wear. We used to have
encyclopedia that was that old and pages tend to stick together. Since
there where no photos at the time that was not a problem.
But i think what matters most is the condition anything is stored.


Windows, supports nearly all software, hardware, and viruses.

Rejoice they sing - They worship their own space - In a moment of love,
they will die for their grace - Don’t kill the whale

Not just light and temperature, but acids in normal paper will rot them in time no matter where you store them.

Probably this will be a thread killer but as I read this thread I thought of this from Buddhism.
One day as I was meditating, I saw a rusty gutter, and I suddenly felt sad and sorry that it was going bad and rusty. I experienced that life was impermanent. I learned Dharma from that gutter.

On 2012-01-14 03:27, joergjaeger wrote:
> On 1/10/2012 6:58 PM, Carlos E. R. wrote:

> But book that are a 100 years old do show some wear. We used to have
> encyclopedia that was that old and pages tend to stick together. Since
> there where no photos at the time that was not a problem.

Mine have some drawings


> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Title_page_of_Vingt_mille_lieues_sous_les_mers.jpg

something like that. The pages get yellowish, and somewhat brittle (they
are very thin). But they don’t get sticky. Not one book, but several. I
also have a collected magazine, bounded in a book, with photos, from 1898.
They keep well.


Cheers / Saludos,

Carlos E. R.
(from 11.4 x86_64 “Celadon” at Telcontar)

On 1/14/2012 5:23 AM, Carlos E. R. wrote:
> On 2012-01-14 03:27, joergjaeger wrote:
>> On 1/10/2012 6:58 PM, Carlos E. R. wrote:
>
>> But book that are a 100 years old do show some wear. We used to have
>> encyclopedia that was that old and pages tend to stick together. Since
>> there where no photos at the time that was not a problem.
>
> Mine have some drawings
>
>


>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Title_page_of_Vingt_mille_lieues_sous_les_mers.jpg
> 

>
> something like that. The pages get yellowish, and somewhat brittle (they
> are very thin). But they don’t get sticky. Not one book, but several. I
> also have a collected magazine, bounded in a book, with photos, from 1898.
> They keep well.
>

Well, the pages were thicker and heavier and also had a heavy ink i
think. Must have been a special edition or something like that.


Windows, supports nearly all software, hardware, and viruses.

Rejoice they sing - They worship their own space - In a moment of love,
they will die for their grace - Don’t kill the whale

joergjaeger wrote:

> On 1/14/2012 5:23 AM, Carlos E. R. wrote:
>> On 2012-01-14 03:27, joergjaeger wrote:
>>> On 1/10/2012 6:58 PM, Carlos E. R. wrote:
>>
>>> But book that are a 100 years old do show some wear. We used to have
>>> encyclopedia that was that old and pages tend to stick together. Since
>>> there where no photos at the time that was not a problem.
>>
>> Mine have some drawings
>>
>>


>>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Title_page_of_Vingt_mille_lieues_sous_les_mers.jpg
>> 

>>
>> something like that. The pages get yellowish, and somewhat brittle (they
>> are very thin). But they don’t get sticky. Not one book, but several. I
>> also have a collected magazine, bounded in a book, with photos, from
>> 1898. They keep well.
>>
>
> Well, the pages were thicker and heavier and also had a heavy ink i
> think. Must have been a special edition or something like that.

For true archives, processes for de-acidifying paper have been around for
quite a while. Libraries use these services to treat entire books then get
really picky about environmental conditions - too dry is almost as bad as
too humid.

This discussion has been on-going ever since man graduated from the tried
and true system of using one eyeball to view a physical representation of
the stored information. Even that simplistic approach has proven to be less
than 100% reliable as language and calligraphy have evolved but our modern
storage methods require too many inter-related pieces to survive millenial
storage. I think the classic tale is that of the video recordings of the
first moon landing. At least there, NASA was able to find one of the
necessary tape units in some remote museum on the other side of the world
but it is sympthomatic of the problem. Consider the simple act of reading a
40 year old hard drive. Was it recorded MFM or RLE? Was the interface
built for IDE, ATA, or some other proprietary spec? We have yet to develop
and adopt a common solution to the issue. I will say that a lot of effort is
going into issue but so far success has been limited.

I ran into one of these cases not long ago. An engineer from one of our
nuclear plants needed the data from an old 256-byte EEPROM and knew that I
had a box full of them I had been selling for several years. These used a
strange 3-voltage setup and he had no way to read them wsithout risking
damage. He was amazed when he found that I still had an adapter to both
read and program the devices. So was I - I thought I had trashed that stuff
years back - but it serves as a good example of the issues we face with
archival storage and recovery.


Will Honea