A debate at Metafilter
about decaying digital data. A while back, there was a piece on tmn
about storing the entire archive of the The New York Times
in cockroach DNA
. Prescient quote from link: "The time capsule is to be placed in Manhattan, yet last for 1000 years. Manhattan is one of the least desirable locations on Earth for archival storage. It is a likely target for terrorist or military attack during the specified period of time."
Is decay inevitable? Nicholson Baker's recent American Newspaper Repository
, an almost deliberately archaic non-profit institution that sets out to save unwanted old newspapers. Baker's book is passionately and coherently argued, claiming that paper does not, in fact, become brittle and unsuitable for archival purposes, and that microfilming and digitisation, both processes which require the destruction of the original material, have been dogged by poorly performing technology and the ulterior motives of librarians and archivists. There is a rebuttal of Baker's arguments here