Linked by Kroc on Thu 26th Oct 2006 17:10 UTC
Features, Office History tends to leave behind mostly two kinds of information - the irrelevant and the biased. Archaeologists are either digging up people's thrown away junk, or reading some emperor's pompous account of his great deeds. The archaeology of the future will involve carefully extracting random 1s and 0s off of media and theorising what it all could mean. In the reckless and fast moving digital world, many stumbling blocks have been created that would drastically inhibit future generations learning about our ancient digital existence.
Order by: Score:
So True
by ferrels on Thu 26th Oct 2006 17:43 UTC
ferrels
Member since:
2006-08-15

I'm always amused by the archeology documentary shows where some geek is attaching deep religious significance to every artifact that gets uncovered. What makes archeologists believe that ancient man was any more religious than modern man?

I can only imagine what the archeologists will say 2000 years from now when they dig up one of our toilets. They'll probably say that that it was an altar of great significance where ancient man spent much time meditating and leaving offerings to his Gods!

What they'll say about digital artifacts is anybodies guess :-)

Reply Score: 5

RE: So True
by Oliver on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:04 UTC in reply to "So True"
Oliver Member since:
2006-07-15

They do not need some nice new technology, history of the past is indeed a huge area of pieces - and guess what? It's a giant puzzle.
In the end, there is nothing different between the past and the future - maybe technology helps to gather certain information but the path is equal ... compare it with forensics.

>They'll probably say that that it was an altar of great significance where ancient man spent much time meditating and leaving offerings to his Gods!

Some do it, others don't. It's a puzzle and they do it like a police officer in some murder case. Don't think of archaeology like mumbo jumbo, it's a science!


Ontopic,

>If you have something you want to say to the future, then you're better off writing it on a piece of paper and putting it away safely. The way things are going, we will be lucky if any of our digital data is readable in 100 years, but your piece of paper could easily still be around.

It doesn't matter, because paper today isn't of that quality as paper of the past. Many acids are in it and the best method to secure it for future generations is unknown until know.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: So True
by Doc Pain on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:46 UTC in reply to "RE: So True"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"It doesn't matter, because paper today isn't of that quality as paper of the past. Many acids are in it and the best method to secure it for future generations is unknown until know."

Agreed. Therefore, one good solution is copying the information from paper to microfiche / microplanfilm / microfilm / rollfilm. To re-read this data, you won't need a computer, even no electricity - very useful after atomic fallouts. :-) A simple candle and some kind of glasses will project the information from the film.

And remember the tons of data collected by NASA missions from the 60s to the 80s. They're stored on magnetic tape, but no one is able to process or read them.

Media like CDs and DVDs will go the same way. Without properly functioning drives and software they cannot be read. And if they are "copy protected" (i. e. made unusable under certain conditions), it won't be better. And some people even copy their data from DVD to DVD in once a year. Wow...

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: So True
by hobgoblin on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:54 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So True"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

so in the end, the best kind of long term storage is one that can be read by the human eye with little or no aid?

hmm, was there not someone that worked on inscribing text onto metal discs using laser?

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: So True
by Doc Pain on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: So True"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"so in the end, the best kind of long term storage is one that can be read by the human eye with little or no aid?"

Yes, I think so, because the (technical) aid for using "modern" stored data won't be available for long time - "long" in terms of history.

Another possibility is to continously copy data from "old" to "modern" media as soon as they're invented and in use. Copy music cassettes and video tapes to CD, to hard disk, then the CDs to DVD, and finally the DVDs to... what comes next? :-)

And a word about paper: I'd say it's one of the top media of data storage today. In the "modern" paperless office, more and more is printed than in any year before. Paperless office... ha! :-)

"hmm, was there not someone that worked on inscribing text onto metal discs using laser?"

I hope he used stainless V2A steel to avoid oxidation.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: So True
by kadymae on Thu 26th Oct 2006 23:32 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So True"
kadymae Member since:
2005-08-02

Therefore, one good solution is copying the information from paper to microfiche / microplanfilm / microfilm / rollfilm.

And people wonder why the hell libraries still "bother" with film and fiche in the digital age. Yes, the film does become a bit more brittle with age, but it's very durable, and it's permanent in the sense that it can't be taken away if the subscription lapses.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: So True
by jack_perry on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:49 UTC in reply to "RE: So True"
jack_perry Member since:
2005-07-06

It doesn't matter, because paper today isn't of that quality as paper of the past. Many acids are in it and the best method to secure it for future generations is unknown until know.

You can buy acid-free paper if you look hard enough. I have some myself.

That aside, the paper that's lasted from the past is paper that has survived in dry environments. This is one reason ancient parchments turn up when people dig in the Egyptian desert, rather than along the Mediterranean basin.

Personally, I'd inscribe it onto a wet clay tablet, then put it out to dry.

Reply Score: 1

RE: So True
by juda on Fri 27th Oct 2006 03:36 UTC in reply to "So True"
juda Member since:
2006-10-27

If you were to talk to an archaeologist over a beer, (s)he would tell you that the use of religious significance to label artifacts usually means we have no clue what it really was used for.

Most likely something will survive. Just consider the volume that is produced. But the question is will anyone be able to interpret what the data says even if it is unencrypted? An example is Linear A, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_A We cannot deciphered it yet.

Reply Score: 1

yes, indeed. love it.
by ParaMouthBalls on Thu 26th Oct 2006 17:46 UTC
ParaMouthBalls
Member since:
2006-10-25

yes, indeed. love it. I see.........................

Reply Score: 1

Not so true
by Buck on Thu 26th Oct 2006 17:56 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

As the world moves on, it's hard to imagine anyone's going to keep an EISA-based something for the keeps sake. The data moves along with the person. From a computer to a computer, from a CD to a hard drive to a DVD to something newer...
The bottom line is - if the data is of any value, it will be restored to a better, safer media, that's the plus of the digital - you can very easily move it around. And if it has no importance, the carrier will simply be discared and soon recycled into new computers and peripherals.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not so true
by hobgoblin on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:46 UTC in reply to "Not so true"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

that takes care of point 1 and 2. unless you run into point 6 backed up by the uniformed goons of point 5.

point 3 and 4 can be taken care of by free software (in the gnu sense) unless point 5 again steps in the way.

in the end, nothing lasts forever (not even mountains).

still, there are allready tv programs lost because its the individual stations task to "archive" them, in contrast to newspapers and librarys.

all in all, i fear that more history will be lost because of deliberate actions of man then the simple fading of technology. old texts exist to this day simply because they have been rewritten in new languages and on new media (papyrus, skins, paper) by anyone, not only those that had the "legal right" to do so...

i wonder what had happened to the writing of some greek thinkers if modern copyright laws was in effect at that time. funny tho. some of the questions that they struggled with at that time are still around today. as more things change, more things stay the same?

Edited 2006-10-26 18:48

Reply Score: 1

RE: Not so true
by renox on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:42 UTC in reply to "Not so true"
renox Member since:
2005-07-06

> if the data is of any value, it will be restored to a better, safer media,

Sorry but NASA tapes problem show quite clearly that this isn't true.

That said, I agree that the only way to keep data is to copy them to the new media each time a new media happen, and do it again and again..
But will you grand-children still think that this is valuable data?

Reply Score: 2

hey kroc
by anyweb on Thu 26th Oct 2006 17:56 UTC
anyweb
Member since:
2005-07-06

I hope you wrote this article on a piece of paper,

'cos in a 100 years, who know's what'll be left of it ;)

cheers
anyweb

Reply Score: 3

RE: hey kroc
by someone on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:34 UTC in reply to "hey kroc"
someone Member since:
2006-01-12

You know, paper rot too...

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: hey kroc
by Blackhouse on Fri 27th Oct 2006 08:08 UTC in reply to "RE: hey kroc"
Blackhouse Member since:
2005-07-06

Laminate it (to win some extra time).

Reply Score: 1

speaking of EISA
by anyweb on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:02 UTC
anyweb
Member since:
2005-07-06

I recently acquired an old 486 computer from someone who was about to chuck it on a skip, and i offered to take it off there hands. I still have it and would love to get it on the internet (or just even networked) but guess what, its only got EISA slots. Not one PCI slot at all.

And of course, the one and only EISA network card I had (an old novell ne2000 one as far as i recall) was given away to someone. So, if anyone out there has an EISA network card out there with a standard network jack on it (rj45) then drop me a line I'd be very happy to take it off your hands.

cheers
anyweb

Reply Score: 1

RE: speaking of EISA
by h times nue equals e on Thu 26th Oct 2006 14:01 UTC in reply to "speaking of EISA"
h times nue equals e Member since:
2006-01-21

I have some spare (and still functional) 3COM Etherlink III 3c509 Network adapters. If you don't mind to pay for the postage (I'm from Austria) and/or noone else, who is geographically closer to you has something suitable, I would be happy to send it to you.

This type of card is - judging from my experience - nearly as good supported by alternative OSes as the NE2000 based cards (had so far no problems with various Linux flavours, xBSD, xDOS, BeOS, .... ).

Let me know, if you need it / have interest !

Best Regards

Martin

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: speaking of EISA
by anyweb on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:24 UTC in reply to "RE: speaking of EISA"
anyweb Member since:
2005-07-06

yup- im interested, i can paypal you, (i'm in sweden so not to0 far away)

drop me a mail anyweb@<removethisbit>linux-noob.com

cheers
anyweb

Reply Score: 1

RE: speaking of EISA
by JernejL on Fri 27th Oct 2006 09:27 UTC in reply to "speaking of EISA"
JernejL Member since:
2006-03-15

Have you tried doing it over USB? i know that some older ibm 486 computers had USB and ps/2 ports.

If nothing works, then go for rs232 modem emulation and hook it onto another newer machine or a small embedded computer.

Reply Score: 1

Data that never dies
by Tyr. on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:03 UTC
Tyr.
Member since:
2005-07-06

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-- Shelley

We would do well to remember Ozymandias from time to time.

Reply Score: 4

v RE
by Kroc on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:19 UTC
RE
by Michael on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:43 UTC in reply to "RE"
Michael Member since:
2005-07-01

Please no. Keep the digg kiddies out of here. There's enough flaming goes on as it is.

Reply Score: 0

RE
by Adam S on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:45 UTC in reply to "RE"
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

Why did you link to the comment page instead of your actual story?

Reply Score: 1

RE
by Kroc on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:53 UTC in reply to "RE"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Sorry, my bad. Because of that mistake I didn't notice a dupe by someone who did link to the article directly. http://digg.com/hardware/In_the_Future_the_Past_Won_t_Be_Present

Reply Score: 1

thanks ...
by Nedi on Thu 26th Oct 2006 18:40 UTC
Nedi
Member since:
2006-02-09

... for a great article!

Reply Score: 1

Smart Ads
by PowerMacX on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:03 UTC
PowerMacX
Member since:
2005-11-06

Interestingly enough, in this line from the article:
"Some cheap CDRs don't even last five years."

I got a ContentLink (tm) UltraAnnoying(tm) ad link underlining "cheap CDRs". :-D

--

Ok, back to the point, there is a little detail that is being overlooked when talking about digital information:
Unlike analog physical storage methods of the past, digital information can be duplicated *exactly* to the last bit, without any progressive loss of quality or detail in the copy, or the copy od the copy of the copy of...

TPM, DRM? They are *designed* to be read, and most are cracked in relatively short time with current technology, not to mention that in the "distant feature" they will surely be considered naive and trivial to reverse engineer.
Reverse engineering deteriorated traditional analogic recording media like paper, on the other hand, amounts to reversing entropy... (and we'll have to wait for Multivac's distant successor for that)

Reply Score: 3

Makes you wonder...
by pauls101 on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:20 UTC
pauls101
Member since:
2005-07-07

I read years ago that ephemeral email was supplanting the old letters, diaries, etc, that so much of our knowledge of the last few centuries is based on.

It's funny to think of future archaeologists trying to figure out what happened to us, with no remains much past the the high point of western civilization in the 1960's. They might never even know we had computers before things fell apart.

Makes you wonder how advanced some of those ancient civilizations actually were: we only know about them up to the point where they stopped building and writing in stone.

Reply Score: 2

DHofmann
Member since:
2005-08-19

CDRs and DVDs rot: Just because today's CD-ROM drives may not be able to read cheap CD-R's over 5 years old, that doesn't mean we won't come up with a better tool to read them, like a high-resolution CAT scan or something. In fact, we've already come up with tools to read 10th century documents that have been "washed" (erased) and overwritten, like the Archimedes Palimpsest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archimedes_Palimpsest

Magnetic media: There are tools to read data from hard drives after the drive has been reformatted. So in the future, reading data from a CD-R or magnetic media that hasn't been purposely erased should be pretty easy.

Ties to hardware: We already have emulators (like MAME), so you no longer need the original hardware to use old software. And some hardware is even starting to be emulated in hardware--see http://c64upgra.de/c-one/ for an example.

Reply Score: 2

someone Member since:
2006-01-12

CDRs and DVDs rot: Also, one should note that pressed CDs/DVDs/Other Optical formats are one of the most durable storage medium ever created. They will not fade (unlike dye based CD-R/DVD±R).

Ties to hardware: Well, that's why we have XML. Everything is stored in plain text!

Reply Score: 2

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Stored in plain text, possibly on a proprietry filesystem, possibly encrypted, possibly on a storage medium that won't last long, possibly without original hardware to read the data.

Plain text on your screen, is never quite plain text on your storage medium.

Reply Score: 1

The ancients had it right all along...
by jo42 on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:38 UTC
jo42
Member since:
2006-02-20

What we need to do is to chisel our 1's and 0's onto clay tablets for future generations.

Reply Score: 2

Who is maintaining the obsolete?
by MacTO on Thu 26th Oct 2006 19:56 UTC
MacTO
Member since:
2006-09-21

I dug up my old Linux CDs the other day. Then, on a whim, I decided to search for even older versions of the distros online. My admittedly shallow search revealed that I had older versions of Debian and Slackware than were available from the distributor's website (0.93R6 and 3.0, respectively). As far as I can tell, the version of RedHat that I have may also be older than what you can find on RedHat's site. (RedHat's site has directories for the older versions, but they appear to be incomplete.)

Oh, and please don't confuse ISA for EISA. The vast majority of non-PCI cards out there are ISA.

Reply Score: 1

And yeah...
by Buck on Thu 26th Oct 2006 20:02 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

As somebody mentioned, and it's really a greater problem - is not of preserving per se, but of presering the original QUALITY. This is regarding old analog material, such as vinyl disks for example. I've read somewhere how some record companies actually encoded these records to 44.1/16 and then just discarded the original masters! Time passes and technology matures quickly so people are just too happy to jump onto the digital bandwagon.
Also, the amount of data is rising, but the amount of *useful* data is hardly increasing. One would need zetabytes of storage just for the crappy exhibionist stuff like this comment.

Reply Score: 1

inscribing text onto metal discs using laser?
by REMF on Thu 26th Oct 2006 20:27 UTC
REMF
Member since:
2006-02-05

yes, the Scientology lot are busy transcribing every last word (spoken and written) of L.Ron. Hubbard onto titainium disks to be stored in their Nuclear Bunker with its viewable-from-space landing beacon/emblem:

http://cryptome.org/cst-bunker.htm

Reply Score: 1

Tyr.
Member since:
2005-07-06

I was just reading this article yesterday :

"As glass CDs are completely transparent, information on them can be read perfectly, improving sound quality. They are not affected by heat or humidity and remain in perfect condition forever."
( http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/entertainment/news/20061021p2a00m0et0... )

Ofcourse glass doesn't really last forever, but close enough and it's pretty strong when stored correctly.
Only 98,700 Yen ( 657 EUR ) a piece :-)

Edit: another solution would be something like the Voyager golden record ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_Golden_Record ), complete with diagram of how to get at the data.

Edited 2006-10-26 20:35

Reply Score: 1

Archangel Member since:
2005-07-23

Um.... glass doesn't last forever, because it's in a weird pseudo-liquid state. Look at the glass in old houses; it warps, sometimes if it's old enough it will actually pull away from the top of the window. For 657 euros a pop, I think I'd rather have something a bit more reliable.

Reply Score: 2

Tyr. Member since:
2005-07-06

Um.... glass doesn't last forever, because it's in a weird pseudo-liquid state. Look at the glass in old houses; it warps, sometimes if it's old enough it will actually pull away from the top of the window. For 657 euros a pop, I think I'd rather have something a bit more reliable.

A common misconception :

"Glass: Liquid or Solid -- Science vs. an Urban Legend" ( http://dwb.unl.edu/Teacher/NSF/C01/C01Links/www.ualberta.ca/~bderks... )

"In other words, while some antique windowpanes are thicker at the bottom, there are no statistical studies to show that all or most antique windowpanes are thicker at the bottom than at the top. The variations in thickness of antique windowpanes has nothing to do with whether glass is a solid or a liquid; its cause lies in the glass manufacturing process employed at the time, which made the production of glass panes of constant thickness quite difficult."

Tensile strength of glass is also greater than that of steel for example. And in fact glass is so stable it is used to "trap" nuclear waste in it for disposal :
"Vitrification locks dangerous materials into a stable glass form that will last for thousands of years." ( http://www.answers.com/topic/vitrification )

Edited 2006-10-26 22:23

Reply Score: 4

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Does anybody remember the Phase Change Disc (PD)? Thermooptical storage, heat and magnetic fields to record data on the medium, contained in a protecting cartridge... if I remember correctly. It would be comparable to glass CDs because you really need something "special" to chance / destroy the information.

Reply Score: 1

For posterity
by Michael on Thu 26th Oct 2006 22:46 UTC
Michael
Member since:
2005-07-01

Whatever system you come up with for preserving data long term, there will always be a cheaper solution that isn't long term. That is where the bulk of the world's communications will lie and that is what archeologists would be interested in. Not the stuff that people wanted to preserve but the stuff we use every day and then discard.

Most of that will disappear but what few scraps remain will be immensely useful. Just consider the way an archeologist today can determine a lot about what went on at the site of a roman villa just from a broken shard of pottery.

Reply Score: 1

Glass...
by TurboI on Fri 27th Oct 2006 00:41 UTC
TurboI
Member since:
2006-10-27

At the end of the book On the Beach, there was a project to encase a whole set of enyclopedias in bricks of glass.

Reply Score: 1

drm
by JernejL on Fri 27th Oct 2006 09:21 UTC
JernejL
Member since:
2006-03-15

And once binary archeologists get files into their hands with drm protection made to be used on a TCP chip 100 years old, what then?

Reply Score: 1

Nothing new here
by w-ber on Fri 27th Oct 2006 11:48 UTC
w-ber
Member since:
2005-08-21

This discussion has continued for a long time, actually, but it's good that it pops to the surface every now and then.

Numerous are the tales of friends and acquintances who used an IBM PC in the beginning of 1980s, saved data on floppies, and now are wondering (or were wondering during 1990s already) how on Earth they could read them back. 5.25" floppy disk drives, anyone? And what was the program's name you used then... Visi-something? Is any modern program able to read the format?

Going a bit off-topic, film isn't all that durable either. Consider 1950s and 1960s when Hollywood used a new coloring method (can't remember its name, but it wasn't TechniColor). Copies of those films began to dissolve in 20 years due to the chemical used, and this is why some movies are lost forever. It happened in many other places as well, such as the BBC archives, and is the reason why some Doctor Who episodes were lost.

Then again, one may ask if it's all that important that everything is stored permanently. I for one could well live knowing that all those pesky Reality TV series never made it to the next century.

Reply Score: 2

The 78 RPM will rule in 1000 years
by dougharding on Fri 27th Oct 2006 17:33 UTC
dougharding
Member since:
2006-06-09

I believe the Library of Congress is converting a lot of recorded music from CD to 78RPM records. This is because 1000 years from now they could be played back with a simple needle.

Edited 2006-10-27 17:34

Reply Score: 1