[APG Public List] Saving Our Data from Digital Decay

Carl Oehmann oehmannc at att.net
Sun Nov 21 05:46:32 MST 2010

Thanks for the link to the article. While it's true that microfilm has a
robust shelf life, there are other issues that need to be considered
regarding archiving data for long term. If we look at just the last 20
years, we see an explosion in the standards for data encoding and handling.
For example Unicode encoding for text was published in 1991 and we are now
at version 6. If we look at image and video storage we see a similar
progression of lossless compression and coding algorithms such as Limpel-Ziv
which is commonly used for GIF or TIFF files and the ZIP files we all use,
and Run Length encoding (RLE) and Entropy encoding found mainly in the audio
and video codecs that are embedded in our computers . Other standards for
electronic document exchange such as XML are relatively new and evolving.
What standards and techniques for digital data processing will be here in 25
or 50 years one can only guess; but just as the media formats (disks, tape,
flash drives) have evolved over the years, I suspect we will see changes in
the way we create, exchange and process the underlying data as well. So at
some point in the future an archivist will need to consider exactly what is
being stored and what technology will be needed to recover that particular
data. If the answer is the decoding algorithms, processing software and data
exchange methods are starting to fade in favor of newer ones, the archivist
may decide to decode and re-encode the data using the current
methods/technolgy. Thus the current capability of 10-15 year storage media
may be really all that is needed. And if it turns out that longer storage is
truly needed, there is a lot of work being done currently using holographic
storage techniques with optical crystals that will provide in the not to
distant future long term storage at tremendous storage densities compared to
what film can provide.
Carl Oehmann
From: apgpubliclist-bounces+oehmannc=att.net at apgen.org
[mailto:apgpubliclist-bounces+oehmannc=att.net at apgen.org] On Behalf Of Sarah
A. V. Kirby
Sent: Saturday, November 20, 2010 7:07 PM
To: APG Public
Subject: [APG Public List] Saving Our Data from Digital Decay
An interesting article - a guy in Germany is proposing using microfilm to
archive digital data because of it's shelf-life and the fact that you don't
need to keep migrating the file (format or media).

Sarah A. V. Kirby
sarah at vandeventer.net (primary)
kirby-s at sbcglobal.net (alternate)
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