7 comments on “Preserving the records

  1. CDs were never great for reliable backup. Throughout the life of CDs there have been specific backup tape forrmats (or zip disks) that are more sturdy and reliable.
    These days there is a strong move away from disks to hard drives or solid state drives. Much easier to transfer the files off-site or carry a whole harddrive system away with you. The drive just plugs into a computer rather than a disk being pushed into a disk reader that gets plugged into a computer.

  2. I have wondered and worried about this myself. As much as we try to become a “paperless” society, I will never feel entirely comfortable turning everything into a digital record, unable someday to be retrieved due to incompatible file formats or hardware issues. I was given one of those digital photo frames for Christmas a couple years ago, and while it’s fun to watch the photo change and you can keep lots of photos on your desk that way, the really important ones are still turned into prints and framed individually. Technology changes too quickly, power can go out, and then where are you? Same reason I resist one of those electronic readers for reading books. You could have a fabulous “library” of hundreds of books on that thing, but what happens to them all when the thing breaks? Or you’re out camping and the batteries die? As much as I love technology and gadgets, the luddite in me still likes hard copies.

  3. Sounds very much a case of putting all one’s eggs in one basket to me. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy all the luxuries the same as everyone that we currently have access to, in this digital age of fantastic cameras, ipods, mp3’s and this PC, but I haven’t a clue how it all works, and it seems to me that we greedily store too much. Were our parents, grandparents so much worse off with only sepia photos, and handwritten letters etc., filed away in boxes ?

  4. Thanks for all your comments. Perhaps solid state storage will prove more reliable and long-lasting (no moving parts?) but even that is unlikely to last several decades, let alone centuries, due to the rapid pace of techno development and compatibility issues.
    Digital Dame makes a good point regarding the ebook readers. Presumably the way to use these is to load a few copies of ebooks temporarily until they have been read – the main “library” being stored on a separate drive – but the same question arises regarding LONG-term storage.
    I agree with welshcyclist that, now that we are able, we create/acquire and store far more than our parents and grandparents but this is not necessarily greed. Neither do I see it as “putting all our eggs into one basket” deliberately. Now that more and more public records are being created and stored digitally, handwriting and typing (on typewriters) also, photos are increasingly digital so that even commercial use of film is greatly diminished, and music collections are no longer widely available on good old-fashioned records, our options are far too limited. We simply do not have any choice. For example, all of the items from my family records in the photograph above will simple cease to exist for future generations.
    If we care about what we leave behind to inform future generations of our families, and of society in general, this seems to me to be a serious issue.

  5. I have been a reluctant computer user of one sort or another since about 1979, but always made to feel an ignorant technophobe.(despite publicising them, writing copy and articles about them – even being employed by Microsoft to write erudite garbage for them).

    It is still the case on a daily basis and I have only just realised why.

    Computers,and other digital stuff, obviously are good/useful etc.

    The whole problem is they are being utterly misused in just about every way imaginable.

    One of the principal reasons is that the software industry has always been dominated by very young, mostly spotty faced inadequates who have traditionally produced all the stuff that makes computers work.

    Unfortunately, hardly anyone other than the programmers understood what the software was and how it worked because every detail of it was originated in the minds of these juvenile delinquents whose immaturity and lack of understanding of the wider World
    left them without a clue as to how to use things like ‘graphic design’ principles and just plain ‘common sense’ to make things readable and understandable etc.

    Also, it takes my breath away to still see software on a daily basis that I am expected to use, but which usually has either no explanation, very little or is totally incomprehensible due to the inarticulate incapacity of the originators to be able use even the most rudimentary communication skills to explain anything about it to anyone else.

    I went through a period of about 15 years of sharing my London house with three or four young lodgers at a time, many of whom were these very programmers.

    I saw at first hand how incredibly dim and silly they were and how they inevitably inflicted their endlessly juvenile thinking on others through their infantile software production.

    It is still the case that the whole computing World is dominated by people like this and riddled with infantile stupidity. It’s that simple.

    That is the problem.

    We all have to use computing by using the childish and infantile rubbish that immature people thrust down our unwilling throats.

  6. Wow! And I thought that I could turn on the heat when peeved about something! Now I can see that I am but an amateur. On the other hand I am sure that you have a point, though it would be too much of a generalisation to apply your remarks to ALL software designers and the companies that employ them. I feel a new post coming on!

  7. Bad news, Rocket: They don’t improve with age. I work in high tech, and the engineers there (in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and on) are no more mature. I think it’s something about the mentality of people who are drawn to that line of work. They all seem to quit maturing around the age of 15. What is it they call that? Ah, yes–Arrested Development. These guys go home and slather the toilet seat with Vaseline, or wrap it in Saran Wrap so their wives get a surprise when they have to use it. Actually in my case, the ones I work with are Design Engineers for hardware, and as you can see they are no more mature.

    I do think you make a good point about the lack of graphic design skills impacting the end product. I have worked with some god-awful software programs that are completely counter-intuitive. However, the two skills (programming and design) I think would be hard to find in one person. They are very different aptitudes, and it seems to be like math skills vs. language skills – you get one or the other (in most cases).

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