Friday, February 20, 2015

Enjoy your digital films and videos while you can... before they disappear

Enjoy your digital films and videos while you can... before they disappear. David Shapton. RedShark Publications. February 17, 2015.
Article about fragility of digital objects. Examples how digital files can fail even when there are multiple copies. Drives can fail, systems can be obsolete. Some statements:
  • paid-for cloud storage and synchronisation company that seems to be doing OK today but which might not be here at some point in the future.
  • Absolutely the most important thing to remember here is that this can happen right under your nose without you realising it. It's like they way you forget things.
  • We can have backup strategies. But that's clearly not enough. There's no point at all in backing up all your files so that they're stored on accessible error-free media, only to find that you don't have any applications to play them.  
  • Cerf has said "that we have to not only preserve the files, but the means to decode them as well."
  • we also have to preserve a working copy of the operating system that can play back the media files, and because machines go out of date, we have to preserve a working copy of the machine.
  • You don't get a warning when something is about to become obsolete or unreadable. You just get an error message bringing you the bad news, or the device doesn't show up in your file system explorer. 
  • Data doesn't fade away gradually. It just becomes inaccessible. But when you step back and look at a mass of data from afar, the effect is that it gradually goes away.
It may be possible to create a virtual machine with a portable language, which could help resurrect machine/software combinations. Making this work will be work and expensive. "It will have to happen because if it doesn't, our films, videos, music tracks, personal memories, and in fact the whole of our recent (and future) history, will simply disappear."

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