[SATLUG] OT: a typical grad student question

John Chalinder argiod at bresnan.net
Fri Mar 28 12:27:03 CDT 2008

>> 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?
> 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.

Despite the durability of the recorded media, the real question is this: with 
the rate at which the electronic gear is obsoleted: even if the media survives 
intact, will there be anything to play it on? I can't get a 64bit machine to 
read 16bit media, and that's only about 20 years old. In 300 years, who knows 
what they'll have; or, indeed, perhaps all humanity will be driven back into a 
new dark age by then... Perhaps all the digger will get out of it is: "Ooo, 
it's so shiney."

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