[APG Public List] Saving Our Data from Digital Decay

Jan Tripp Jan_Tripp at comcast.net
Sun Nov 21 14:23:26 MST 2010

Years ago we used UUENCODE and UUDECODE to e-mail photos, spreadsheets and
other binary files. E-mail garbles binary files and this program worked
nicely to send the files. Today MIME works behind the scenes with your
e-mail program to do the same thing that UUENCODE did. You ended up with a
very long e-mail of ASCII characters representing a photo or spreadsheet.
Photographing or printing out the e-mail would do pretty much what the
German researchers are proposing, it seems to me. To recover the files, you
would scan/OCR the film/page and then decode the electronic file. A little
experiment you could try at home.  

I would be curious, based on my experience, how large the microfilm archive
becomes. Representing a byte of information on paper or film has to take up
an enormous amount of real estate (even if you use a 4 pt font...) If any
one remembers IBM punch cards, you know what I mean. Microfilm may be stable
but I question how efficiently you can store large amounts of electronic
data on microfilm.

Of course in 500 years, my WordStar files will not be readable by anyone. 

Jan Tripp
Ann Arbor

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