[SATLUG] OT: a typical grad student question

Jeremy Mann jeremymann at gmail.com
Fri Mar 28 09:23:56 CDT 2008

On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 10:22 PM, toddwbucy <toddwbucy at grandecom.net> wrote:
> sometimes I come up with these crazy anthropological questions...I think
>  that this one might be of some interest to you guys...
>  recently I had to go through the hassle of learning how to update my
>  bios without the aid of a 3.5 floppy drive and it occurred to me that
>  there might one day be the need for a digital archaeologist.  So I
>  googled it and came up with this old (circa 1993 dawn of the
>  Internet...damm I feel old) wired
>  article...http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1.05/1.5_archaeology.html ... the article basically notes that the abundance of obsoleted archival media and that in the future this data may be of interest to social scientists.  My question is this, has there been any study in which various forms of archival media life spans were tested under variable environmental conditions?  Basically a future archaeologist who comes across say a DVD or 8mm video tape at a particular archaeological site.  For purposes of the argument lets assume that it resides in a sealed time capsule and that its been there for say 300 years.  What is the likelihood that the data on the DVD or 8mm tape would survive?
>  one final question, in part this question touches on another...given
>  that google is said to keep everything, Is this true? it seems to me
>  that this is true and it is also true that the amount of data on the
>  Internet is growing exponentially the it stands to reason that they will
>  eventually run out of archival space. (Finite resources and all) How is
>  google addressing this issue? Do they eventually destroy old data to
>  make room for new or are they hoping that eventually technology will be
>  able to address the problem though more efficient use of resources (i.e.
>  building better archival storage which allows for greater data density)?
>  I suspect that the answer is the latter?

Its pretty doubtful the data would be usable. I'm just now seeing my
data DVDs I've burned a few years ago starting to have read errors
when I try and access them. I've taken the usual practice of storing
them in a dry, cool dark place, and always in cases, and I try and use
the best media I can buy.

Jeremy Mann
jeremy at biochem.uthscsa.edu

University of Texas Health Science Center
Bioinformatics Core Facility
Phone: (210) 567-2672

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