Future of CDROM, DVD, etc.

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Thu Apr 27 11:45:51 CDT 2000

Some have missed my point about ARCHIVE STANDARDs.  Punch cards, 5.25 disks,
etc., WERE NEVER accepted by Archives as a proper standard for archiving
data.  Archivists, like other specialists, have their standards, etc., And
when Archivists accept a standard, they maintain the equipment to read that
medium (yes, as a government scientist I still have a PC ISA 9 track tape
drive that works) or they "migrate" the information to a new standard

Yes, in a few years consumers are likely to have DVD players as industry
wants to make its profit from forcing us to replace our CDs.  But archivists
will have due to the technological aspect sthat I had explained previouly
specialized players which will read both DVD, CDROM, etc.  And I suspect if
libraries have enought CDROMs in their holdings they will have those players
too, just like many good technical reference libraries still have both
microfilm and microfiche readers, etc..

And as editor of a CDROM journal, it is probably that I may "migrate" our
earlier volumes to DVD as a service to my readers. The costs of doing so
will probably be peanuts, not more than what a single CDROM costs now, but
with the advantage that I could put lots of them on a single DVD.

The bottom line is that the new media (WWW & CDROM==>DVD==>???) provide
cheap, easy to produce means of disseminating biosystematic information
universally. We can not afford to ignore it.

And don't get me wrong. I love old books, and have original copies of many
of 18th century tomes, including 2 different editions of Systema Naturae.
So I would love to have my monographic work published in the traditional
book format, but I feel the money is better spent on more systematists, more
field work, better equipment, etc.

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov

>>> Richard Jensen <rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU> 04/27 10:02 AM >>>
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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