> [mailto:CONLANG@listserv.brown.edu] On Behalf Of TristanMcLeay
> > Digital media is getting better, and is still much betterthan
> > some of the preceding types. Magnetic media had to be oneof
> > the worst, but now we have optical media like DVD's andCD's.
> > The ability to easily copy them means there *should* alwaysbe a
> > backup.
> Wrong --- it requires continued interest at least every second
> generation. Getting a 5.25" floppy onto a CD would've beeneasy when CDs
> were new, but you'd find it difficult to get one onto a USBdrive or
> DVD/BluRay disc.
Getting it onto DVD or BluRay will be the same process. It
would involve getting an old machine to read the old media and
copying the files. Even my old Apple II files could be put on a
DVD. I'd just need to find an old computer capable of reading
those files and transfer them via the serial port to another
computer, or I could just upload them to an FTP site somewhere.
Thanks to some good emulation programs, even the executables are
> >The other benefit is that copies will be precise
> > duplicates of the originals unlike a photocopy of a bookwhich
> > will lose a bit of its quality with every generation.
> Except for photos, drawings and other primarily visual mediathis isn't
> a problem. If in three hundred years time a grammar of myconlang is
> republished in a new font, well, I might not have approved ofthe
> formatting but at least the important stuff's there.
Even photos will be fine if the resolution is high enough and a
lossless format is used. Digital photography is quickly
approaching the quality of film.
> > It's true that things will only be circulated while there is
> > still an interest in them. As interest wanes, expect thereto
> > be fewer and fewer copies in circulation but that would bethe
> > same for books, magazines and other printed materials asmost of
> > them will probably end up in landfills or paper recycling
> > centers.
> Yes, it's a risk either way. But the risks of loss of interestwith
> digital media are massive --- even if the disc is kept (andI'd guess a
> book is more likely to be kept), you can't read it anyway. Formy part,
> I throw out floppy disks whenever I come across them, becauseI can't
> read them anymore. It doesn't matter what's on them. But alsoI throw
> out CD-Rs without caring what's on them, because the effortinvolved in
> bringing them to my computer, taking out the disc in thedri--- well,
> I'm bored of just describing the process already. Yet I canflick
> through my notebooks and say "yup, interesting consketch hereworth
> keeping" in a moment.
I won't say I just toss out floppies. I do trash them nowadays,
but I'll at least make sure it's something I don't want first.
I do have a loose floppy drive floating around somewhere, but I
transferred all my stuff a long time ago, except for the Apple
II media which can't be read by any other machine.
> > Paper doesn't last long either, especially modern paper.
> It is still easy to get archival quality paper. If you wantsomething to
> last, you should put it on archival quality paper in a lot oflibraries
> likely to last, and make sure other things refer to it ---just so
> people know it's somewhere in that vast library and might beworth
> looking at. (Popularity over a long period of time is a goodthing for
> things to last.) Alternatively build massive stone structureswith no
> entrance so people are kept out of them for two thousandyears and paint
> what you care about on the walls, and then when they get inwhatever's
> there is of historical interest, so people keep it even if itwasn't
> particularly interesting/popular in its day. For extracertainty, bury
> random dead guys there and say they were the Calter of ancientRhode
> Island, Thaum IV. The trick here is to do it in the desert onlow value
> ground so people don't knock it down in a hundred years timeto put up a
> block of flats.
As mentioned, I'm not looking for immortality. If there's
enough interest in my works, then those who are interested will
have to take on the responsibility of preserving them. If/when
that interest fades away, then there's point in keeping it
> >I have
> > 20 year old books and newspapers where already turningyellow
> > and rotting away into dust. At least optical media likeCD's
> > will keep for a long time if you avoid scratching them, andI
> > can make backups in case one becomes unreadable.
> Two problems: My point from the last one is that that requireshuman
> intervention --- continued interest. A book that everyone'sforgotten
> about for a hundred years sitting in a library will still bethere ---
> possibly degraded, but still generally legible. A CD thateveryone's
> forgotten about sitting in a library for a hundred years ago--- well,
> for all we know it might as well be frisbee.
If the library keeps the book for a hundred years. A book that
nobody's read for a long time is likely to be purged from the
shelf to make room for something that will get some use. CD's
and machines to read them will probably be as scarce as LP's and
turntables are today. Anything of value though will be
transferred to newer media as time goes on. The future is
likely to be some type of non-volatile solid-state memory
device, something like the "thumb drives" or SD cards we use
today. MP3's are already becoming the new media for music.
There's really no telling what a future library would look like
either. In 100 years, they may have done away with books
completely. For that matter, they may just all become online
libraries, supplying nothing but digitized copies of everything.
> The second problem is that CDs simply aren't durable anyway. Ihaven't
> really looked into it in any detail, but estimates are mostcheap CDs
> will last you around 20 years if you're lucky, and durablearchival
> quality CDs will give you a hundred years. While a book mightfall apart
> in 100 years or less, you don't need page 68 to make sense ofthe whole
> picture, unlike a CD.
Being plastic they will hold up longer than paper. The biggest
problem with CD's is laser burn which only occurs if they are
actually being used. Sitting on a shelf at room temperature
won't hurt them at all.
If you really want to see what will kill the longevity of
creative works, it will probably be the intellectual property
laws which are becoming increasingly more ridiculous along with
some of the silliest protection schemes ever. I can see where a
lot of digital works will be published, but uncoverable because
of some long-forgotten DRM format keeps someone locked out.
> >> Print media is just so much more reliable, because you can
> >> see it right there in front of you!
> > They make these neat little devices now called "printers".You
> > always have the option to print out what you have stored
> > electronically, and even print multiple copies for all your
> > friends.
> How do you print a CD if no-one's made a CD/reader in 100years? You can
> read a book if no-one's made a book in 100 years. Even in twothousand
> years when we've all forgotten the language spoken, you canstill work
> out what a book says. In two thousand years, even if we canmake the
> necessary technology to read a CD, who's even going to know itwas a
> data storage device of the late 20th century?
By then, you'd have to assume anything of value has been
transferred to newer media. And in the hypothetical future
where someone is able to read a CD, I assume by being able to
read it they'll be able to pick up on the file dates to know
when it was made. As I mentioned, I don't expect disks to even
be around much longer except maybe for the large RAID
installations used in data centers. Everything is starting to
move to solid-state memory. In the next 50 years, there will
probably not be anything with moving parts.
I'd project that something like Project Gutenberg will exist in
the future to take old works and keep them available in whatever
formats the future will use. The biggest problem is the one
I've brought up before that is related to legal issues. Though
technology is moving at a faster pace, which should indicate a
case for shorter terms for copyrights and patents, the trend is
to make them longer so big business can squeeze every last
dollar from them. On the positive side though, as long as a
work has some commerical value, publishers will make sure they
are available, regardless of the form.
I've been moving more and more to digital media for several
years now. The small collection of books I have is still enough
to fill a 6' bookcase. If I took all the information I have and
made it available in paper form, I'd need a large warehouse just
to store it everything. Then there would be the task of
physically searching for something when I need it. In digital
form, I can quickly find what I need without getting out of my