Future of CDROM, DVD, etc.

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Thu Apr 27 09:02:10 CDT 2000

Brian Jones makes an important point.  I know of a dissertation that was
archived in a "permanent" file on punch cards, I archived all the data for
my dissertation on punch cards, and the Greene Herbarium database
(NDG; the first in North America to be computerized) was archived on both
punch cards and magnetic tape.  Today, all of these are effectively
unusable.  Over the past five years we have searched for a functional card
reader - no one has one (I guess we could hire someone to transcribe the
cards to a current database - but that's a monumental task). Many of us
have lots of 5.25' diskettes that are on the verge (I have purposely
maintained two working 5.25" drives) of being unusable (fortunately, I can
still move the data to a better storage medium).  I read an article
a couple of years ago predicting that the current CDROM technology would
be functionally obsolete within about 12-15 years.

On the other hand, as Brian notes, I have 200-year-old books and 150 year
old journals that are pefectly usable, and should stay that way
indefinitely.  Sometimes new technology is not better technology.  If we
want to archive everything in electronic format, fine.  But we would be
foolish to discontinue creating "permanent" copies in the old,
user-friendly technology that has proven so reliable.

Richard J. Jensen      |   E-MAIL: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Dept. of Biology       |   TELEPHONE: 219-284-4674
Saint Mary's College   |   FAX: 219-284-4716
Notre Dame, IN  46556  |

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