Saturday, 6 February 2010

Papyrus vs BluRay

How long do you expect information digitally recorded on a standard CD to last? 20 years? 50 years? 100? According to the Canadian Conservation Institute, it is about 8 years. Even old analogue tape does better at 20 years. It appears that one of the best media for archiving information, if carefully managed, is actually paper. One of the biggest problems we face is the availability of working technology to read recorded data. This was exactly the problem faced by NASA's Ames Research Center when they wanted to read old magnetic tapes from the 1960s Lunar Orbiter missions. It was only because a retired employee not only had the expertise, but actually had the tape drives in the back of his garage, that they were able to do so. With major sunspot activity expected to play havoc with digital communications in 2012, maybe Google shouldn't bother scanning those millions of books, but carefully store them in a mine somewhere in the Mojave.
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