GENMSC-L ArchivesArchiver > GENMSC > 2010-07 > 1280459595
From: Canth <>
Subject: Re: Keeping track of paper files
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 12:43:15 +0930
On Thu, 29 Jul 2010 22:34:29 -0400, Wes Groleau
>On 07-29-2010 21:04, Brian wrote:
>> Paper records can still exist after hundreds of years. I have serious
>> concerns about whether digitized records will be able to be read in
>> the future.
>A hundred years fom now, even though most people can't, there will be
>experts that know how to read floppy disks, just like we have experts
>that can read cuneiform and hieroglyphics.
>So I have no worries about that. I can however, guarantee that
>a hundred years from now, _no_one_ will be able to use my paper
>copies, unless they want to take one paper at a time, figure out
>what it is, figure out how to file it and index it, etc.
Wouldn't bet on it. One of the US census in the latter half of the
twentieth century was stored on 800BPI tape & the paper records
destroyed. Twenty years later, although the tapes were still OK,
there simply was not a single tape drive anywhere that could read
them. From what I understand, it would take quite a bit of research
to build such a tape unit, as it was all discrete component circuitry
and a proprietary design.
The fact is that although the medium may well survive, the technology
to read the medium won't. Try to get a 5.25 inch floppy drive, or
even one of the older eight inch floppy drives. IBM had a line of
devices called Display Writers which used huge floppy disks at very
low densities. There is a lot of data on those disks still, but no
one can access it. If there was a very critical piece of data on one
of those disks, and money and time were no object to recovering it,
you might be able to use a scanning electron microscope to map all the
magnetic domains, a task which would require hundreds of hours of
work, then do an analysis of the results to try to work out what was
It is not the same as reading ancient scripts. For cuneiform or
hieroglyphics, you don't need a special machine to convert them into
something a human can see, they are there on the surface of a
relatively non-perishable medium. But with twentieth century
technology, you must have a machine to "see" the data and extract it
into a form accessible by human senses.
A hundred years from now, all your cds will be so much waste, but your
paper records, no matter how poorly filed, will still be usable data.
AS! ds++:+++ a++ c+++ p++ t+ f-- S+ p+ e++ h++ r++ n++ i+ P+ m++ M
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