Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preservation, preservation, preservation ...

Kevin Kelly on the Long Now Blog points out that storage of digital information should really be called movage, because it's only by moving it from one medium and platform to another that you can keep it accessible. And then there's the problem that:
The storage medium itself can decay. Turns out that paper is much more stable over the long term than most digital media. Magnetic surfaces flake, peel, shatter. And the supposed durable CDs and DVDs aren’t very stable either. ...

Proper movage means transferring the material to current platforms on a regular basis — that is, before the old platform completely dies, and it becomes hard to do. This movic rythym of refreshing content should be as smooth as a respiratory cycle — in, out, in, out. Copy, move, copy, move.

In other words, anything you want moved to the future has to be given attention to keep it moving forward.

We don’t know what the natural movage respiration cycle is for digital media yet since it is still very new, but I suspect the cycle is much shorter than we think. I would guess it is 5 years. No matter what digital format you have your precious stored on, you should expect to move it onto new media in five years — and five years after that forever!

Move it, move it, move it.

Paper is looking better all the time. Clay tablets, even better! Alexander Rose writes also on the Long Now Blog that the invention of a tough and resilient ceramic at UC Berkeley has the Long Now Foundation interested:
... we are quite interested in it as a long lasting material for the 10,000 Year Clock. We already plan on using engineered ceramics for bearings and other wear components, but the elimination of ceramics only real drawback, that it can shatter, really opens up the engineering possibilities.

It seems to me that they should broaden their thinking beyond clocks. Ceramics formed the original cheap and durable writing medium, as I've commented before. Wouldn't it be funny if the end result of all our experimenting with electronic technology would turn out to be a high-tech version of the cuneiform tablet!

1 comment:

Island Bookworm said...

That would be great--the anti-Kindle!