Low-Tech Genius

One of the evils of the modern world, humble paper had a war declared on it when home computers became the norm and everyone had an email account.  It was blamed for depleting rainforests and goodness knows what else but is this wonderful low technology still the best for preserving data?

The US Senate is currently debating (the British Library already has) how to record and archive information for future generations of humans.  Not for the Year 3000 but even for the next decade.  As technology develops at a wonderful rate and my fingers are crossed for Star Trek inventions to become real, data even a few decades old is becoming impossible to recover as fast as it is becoming outdated.  Nasa has lost vast amounts of data collected from space missions as the computers used to read them were decommissioned.

However, this is not the case for ancient papyrus and paper books.  One only needs to walk into the British Library in London to see an original copy of the Magna Carta amongst other simply stunning written artefacts from our history.  The consensus seems to be that all data we want to keep should be printed on acid-free paper if we want to avoid the risk of losing the data for ever.

I recently went to an automated embroidery factory in Delhi and quietly marvelled at the sight of a FLOPPY DISC!!  It brought back memories of when I was writing my dissertation all those years ago and the panic and stress of trying to remember where I saved it.  If I hadn’t printed a copy of it and had it bound I certainly wouldn’t be able to retrieve a copy if it now (it’s really boring so that wouldn’t have been a major loss in my life).

Indiana Jones And The Search For The Lost Kindle doesn’t really have a ring to it does it?  There’s nothing quite like paper.


2 Comments to “Low-Tech Genius”

  1. It is sad isn’t it to think we can’t even retrieve things 10 years old. What has our library decided to do?

    • Vakeel Bibi, this is from the British Library website:

      Publishers and distributors in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have a legal obligation to send one copy of each of their publications to the Legal Deposit Office of the British Library within one month of publication. Combined with our substantial acquisition programme our collection occupies over 625km of shelving, and grows at a rate of 12km per year. Having secured electronic legal deposit legislation in 2003, the British Library is setting up the National digital Library to store e-journals, websites and other digital items.

      Don’t they do an amazing job!!

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