Re: For Whom the Gate Tolls?

From: K. Kris Hirst <Kris-Hirst_at_UIOWA.EDU>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 11:11:41 -0500

>On Thu, 27 Aug 1998, K. Kris Hirst wrote:
>> But if we see them as supplying alternative products; paper providing
>> archival, static data, and electronic providing dynamic communication, then
>> I can see both as continuing to prosper.

To which Jean-Claude Guedon replied At 08:29 AM 08/31/1998 -0400
>I just do not see the advantage of using paper to provide "archival,
>static data...". Paper is not all that good as material substratum and it
>locks data in such a way as to make retrieval very cumbersome.

No doubt cumbersome; no doubt also considerably more stable than tapes,
diskettes and hard-drives. Despite my firm belief in the digital age, I am
not ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Yes, digital
communication permits ready access in the present, and probably in the near
future, and is preferable from a user standpoint. But paper remains
accessible no matter what, and will not require processing when the
software availability changes. When the lights go out for however long they
do on January 1, 2000, I will still be able to read my copy of Darwin's
Origin of the Species. But forget accessing the web site. I think we need
the Library of Congress as much as we ever have, and we will continue to
need a paper archive indefinitely. Sure the west economy's great right now,
but the rest of the world's is not. How much do you think Russia will spend
this year bringing their electronic archives up to date? How much would the
US if their economy was in the same shape?

Now I don't believe that we need to continue publishing journals in paper
form; but it is possible, don't you think? that a few (acid-free) paper
copies archived in a few select places might be a good idea? Think like an
archaeologist. I for one can't help it <g>.

Kris Hirst
Office of the State Archaeologist
The University of Iowa or
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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