Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Digital Decay?" Acid-free Paper & the Print Button

The New York Times calls it "Digital Decay."

We fans of "old-fashioned acid-free paper" call it redundant.

This morning's article focuses on preserving "born-digital" materials for the benefit of posterity - in this instance, the writings of Salman Rushdie. The problem?

"Electronically produced drafts, correspondence and editorial comments, sweated over by contemporary poets, novelists and nonfiction authors, are ultimately just a series of digits — 0’s and 1’s — written on floppy disks, CDs and hard drives, all of which degrade much faster than old-fashioned acid-free paper. Even if those storage media do survive, the relentless march of technology can mean that the older equipment and software that can make sense of all those 0’s and 1’s simply don’t exist anymore."

"Imagine having a record but no record player."

The article is a very interesting read; a story about the rush of time and the quest for money to preserve all those 1s and 0s in their original environment. Meanwhile, the cardinal rule of the digital age - Back Up Your Files - seems to be missing. One must wonder: If Salman Rushdie's writings are worthy of preservation for posterity, why not get some good "old-fashioned acid-free paper" and hit the PRINT button?

In case you're interested in that wonderful recycled floppy disk notepad (I wonder if it's filled with good old-fashioned acid-free paper?) you can get one here.

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