Re: For Whom the Gate Tolls?

From: Guedon Jean-Claude <guedon_at_ERE.UMontreal.CA> <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 04:26:19 -0400

On Mon, 31 Aug 1998, K. Kris Hirst wrote:

> 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.

Let us not confuse material durability and ease of use. Paper's
durability, in the best circumstances, seems to be around 1000 years.
More recent papers of the acidic variety go to dust within a few decades.

As an archeologist, you should support stone <g>. Now, that is durable
medium. But varities of CD-ROM made of tempered glass (see the for details again) may be even more durable.

But you are right considering the "ink" and the software availability.
XML, based as it is on ascii, will last for a long time, at least for
the written word. On th eother hand, standards such as JPEG or PDF will
disappear after, at best, a couple of decades.

Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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