Digital Forever? [From: Edupage, 16 April 1998]

Philip Fryer (PDF@mailgate.loyola.edu)
Fri, 17 Apr 1998 12:11:52 -0400

DIGITAL ISN'T FOREVER
"Digital information lasts forever, or five years -- whichever comes
first,"
says a senior computer scientist at RAND Corp. The problem is that
computer
experts are finding out that under less-than-optimal conditions,
digital
tapes and disks, including CD-ROMs, can deteriorate in as little as
five to
10 years. And the decay, although it happens gradually, isn't evident
until
it's too late, says the founder of Voyager Co., which makes commercial
CD-ROM books and games. "CDs have a tendency to degrade much faster
than
anybody, at least in the companies that make them, is willing to
predict."
At the same time, as data is ported from an antiquated platform to a
newer
system, often there are bits that fail to make the transition.
Sometimes
it's just a matter of footnotes disappearing, but sometimes whole
categories
of data are lost. "It's like playing the child's game of Telephone.
It
doesn't take many translations from one media to another before you
have
lost significant aspects of the original data." (Business Week 20 Apr
98)

Philip Fryer
AV/Systems Librarian
Loyola/Notre Dame Library
mailto:pdf@loyola.edu or pfryer@ndm.edu
410-532-8787 x118
410-532-6130 fax
http:www.loyola.edu/library/avhome.htm