Future of CDROM, DVD, etc.

Jones, Brian Dr bjones at AGRIC.WA.GOV.AU
Fri Apr 28 08:10:36 CDT 2000

I think we are confusing two issues here.
There is both a need for ready access to data, for which electronic media
are excellent, and a need for very long term storage of data essential for
future taxonomic stability.
The same situation applies with type material.  I still insist on Canada
Balsam for mounting glass coverslips on type slides.  The histology
department hate me because xylene is now considered 'dangerous' to health
and wellbeing.  However, having dumped a large number of slides with plastic
coverslips which fell off (taking the specimen with it) and had more
remounted because the DPX crazed, I can see value in sticking with proven
technology, not cost and convenience.
I know that printing on acid-free paper is the best permanent long-term
storage media.  My taxonomic work, written and drawn in electronic format
but  printed on acid-free paper with permanent inks will (for better or
worse) be accessable for several 1000 years.

Nothing about the electronic industry inspires confidence in its long term
access capabilities.  Even 9 track tapes deteriorate over short periods of
time unless they are regularly re-recorded and the tapes are rotated.
Access doesn't depend on having the machine but on access to spare parts to
keep them going.   To use my example of the 78 record collection - I have a
turntable but I have a real hard job finding stylus's.

We recently cleaned the lab (only 15 years old) and found a whole heap of
taxonomic notes and slides left by my deceased predecessor.  All immediately
accessable and useable.  The computer disks were unreadable.
Dr Brian Jones
Senior  Fish Pathologist, Fisheries WA
phone +61-8-9368-3649 fax +61-8-9474-1881

> ----------
> From:         christian thompson[SMTP:cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV]
> Reply To:     christian thompson
> Sent:         Thursday, 27 April 2000 11:45
> Subject:      Re: Future of CDROM, DVD, etc.
> 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
> medium.
> 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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