DailyDirt: In The Year 2525…

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Computers have made it easier and easier for people to create incredible amounts of data — passing the zettabyte barrier in 2010. The growth of data is actually surpassing our ability to store it, and it’s a bit concerning that our ability to store digital information for long periods of time isn’t too reliable (just try to access stuff on a 5.25″ floppy). Here are just a few interesting links on preserving information for thousands of years.

If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: In The Year 2525…”

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36 Comments
Wally (profile) says:

So much to say in do little time….where should I begin. I took an arts/humanities course in college. As far as our art is concerned, there will always be a way for humans to express themselves. As it has for tens of thousands of years, it will become a mystery to those 40,000 years from now. Cool thing is, they get to interperate our works and music. Those are some lucky humans 40,000 years from us πŸ™‚

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The only two reasons I had used a 5.25″ were for education. Would it please you to know, Rich, I’m 26 years old and that 5.25″ floppies were a part of my education?

In kindergarten, my school had an Apple III where we learned how to program lines in to make art.

In my Junior and Senior years in high school, I had my father for both Chemistry courses offfered. We used an Apple IIe to simulate the molecular breakdown of objects in acid.

Rich says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think you and the anonymous coward completely miss my point. It wasn’t an old man rant. Point is the author is making the same tired argument about older media being unreadable that I hear over and over. I seriously doubt he has tested his hypothesis, because he is young enough that he’s probably never even used a 5 1/4 floppy. I *have* tested it. I have some that are almost 40 yrs. old, and most (about 90%) still work. I’ve got 10 yr. old CD-Rs that still work.

Regardless, I think this argument is completely moot. It is not like people are relying on these pieces of old media. Everything I had on floppy (and CD-R, etc.) is currently on hard drives. You will find there are many modern archives for ALL old forms of electric media. Is is not static. The data will continue to move as we do. It is silly to worry about old media “dying out.” If you think I am wrong, just check out the emulator scene.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Thing is, my high school went through great lengths to keep the 5.25″ floppies maintained. They still workded before my father’s retirement. I think the problem is that the degrehation of software is the result of not using the disk and not keeping a dust cover. Some of the best maintenance is preventative.

5.25″ floppies are still readable in modern machines with DosBox and this:

http://www.deviceside.com/fc5025.html

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

About the emulator scene…you have to have a hardware source or a hard copy to dump from for it to work. So it’s still very important to maintain your old floppies and cartridges.

I have a USB Micro (3.5″) floppy disk drive and through using DosBox on my Windows Vista Machine I can play Wheel of Fortune.

I can also emulate 68k Macintosh software. But you need a physical storage device in order to get a proper dump of the software.

So in preservation we still need the physical objects the data is stored on.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I sick of hearing crap like this. I actually have 5 1/4 floppies (a lot of them). They are probably older than you are, and they are still accessible. Media is more resilient than you kids think is it.

I’ve been using floppies since they were 8″… and none of them read anymore. I’ve boxes of 5.25″ mini-floppies (the proper term for them)… and almost none of them are readable. I’ve boxes upon boxes of 3.5″ micro-floppies (again the proper term)… and very few of them are readable. I’m no kid, and yes indeed, the old floppies are NOT very resilient.

Most of my CDRs that are more than 5 years old are only partially readable, and only a few of the 10 year-old CDRs can be read at all. In fact, the most resilient storage medium I have found is… my audio cassettes. Most of them still play fine after 35 years. My VHS tapes are probably about as good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

possibly some of your floppies are unreadable, but it the format of that information unreadable ??

of course not… do you have available to you readers for that format ?? again, that would be yes..

does it look like there will be any time soon when you will not be able to purchase readers of that format ? NO…

is it impossible to take all your readable floppies, and burn them onto a DVD or a CD or onto a USB memory ? ie to convert it onto a more modern media, without loss of data ?? YES..

does the capacity of modern media increase with time, are you now able to put the contents of many 3.5″ floppes onto a single CD, and copy that CD every 5 years ?

you could probably read the contents of your old floppies and re-write the data onto the same disk and reset the gradual magnet degridation !!

the language you would use is iconography and mathematics.

Rich says:

Re: Re: Re:

Maybe your just a bad archivist. Most of my 5 1/4s (there was no “proper” term consistently used) read fine, as do my 10 yr. old CD-Rs.

Regardless, you complete miss the point. It doesn’t matter than eventually they will become unreadable. No one is relying on them to be! The data moves as we do. All that data from old floppies, etc. is now on hard drive. When we move beyond hard drives, the young people of that day will be whining that soon all hard drives will be unreadable! Well, so what? The data from it, isn’t. It’s a stupid argument.

Anonymous Coward says:

all so worried about information, what information from 2000 years ago, is important to people of today, and what would make you think that the information you have now would be of any use to someone living 2000 from now ?

do you think they will be able to use that information to advance their lives ?? really..

nuclear waste, do you not think they would have the technology to determine potential risk of radioactivity in 2000 years, possibly even more advanced than we have in 2012 ?

in the year 2525, you’ll be able to store the entire knowledge base, all art, all music, all movies, maps and the earths phone book of era 2012 in the scretch pad memory in your watch.. with several million terabytes to spare..

Seegras (profile) says:

Lost Ancient Art

Well, yes, some cave paintings from 40’000 years ago still exist. But that’s probably only a tiny bit of all the culture at that time.

How many roman murals (only 2000 years old) still exist? They could have survived, as pompeii shows, and as pompeii also shows, the roman cities were full of them. And not only murals, but statues as well. An awful lot, surely more than 99%, were lost and destroyed in the meantime.

So just because the material (and the information) could theoretically survive several thousand years doesn’t mean it will.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Storing information

Digitally-stored information about nuclear waste needs to be accessible many thousands of years from now… but in what language should it be written?

Why should it be stored digitally? We have known, proven methods of preserving information in large quantities over thousands of years. Just look at the Dead Sea Scrolls. Written in Hebrew thousands of years ago, then dug up and read by people who speak Hebrew.

Why shouldn’t we be able to do something similar with English, and no high technology required?

Rekrul says:

If you thought your burned CDs/DVDs lasted forever, think again.

$4 each for blank DVDs? And what are you supposed to do with them? They tell you that normal drives don’t have enough power to burn them, but I don’t see them offering a drive on that site. So you’re buying media that you can’t use. Great idea!

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