by maryann johanson, liberal movie person
Thu Feb 11 2016, 10:17pm | 6 comments
What? No love for stone tablets?
No wonder the modern world has such a problem with playback drift…
Vellum will likely last much longer than electronic means of storage. Did you read the link? This isn’t just about nostalgia or some pointless bit of tradition.
Except for that quartz glass stuff that will evidently outlast the heat death of the universe.
Yes, I’ve read that link and I was a bit amused and dismayed to note how much of it focused on vellum’s advantages over paper when the real issue seemed to be its obvious advantage over electronic storage.
Then again, the battle between vellum and paper ended a long time ago as far as most of the literate world is concerned and it’s hard to imagine anyone outside of Vatican — and of course, the brilliant people who post here — who even knows what vellum is, much less conceives of a time when it was used on a regular basis.
As for the electronic storage issue, it has long been a pet peeve of mine to note how quickly most files I write on a computer become unreadable due to software changes while books and magazines published decades ago can still be read with relative ease. And I suspect the issue is only gong to get worse as more and more data gets stored online.
I wonder if the solution to electronic data storage is just to keep systematically transferring as much data as possible from old platforms to new platforms, rather than fixating on the permanence of any single medium. After all, this is how it’s often worked, even with vellum: a lot of the surviving manuscripts we have are copies of copies of copies of old (and now lost) originals.
In short, “yes”, especially with copying and storage as cheap as they now are. Archival of traditional data has been focused on preserving the artefact; if the important thing is the bit pattern, it needs to be distributed to as many people as possible.
Unless someone thinks they can make money by keeping it artificially scarce, of course. Look up “Nefertiti hack”.
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