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Re: Titanosaurs from Malawi

On 5/22/05, Phil Bigelow <bigelowp@juno.com> wrote:
> In the year A.D. 2200, will reader equipment still be backward compatible
> with today's CD drives?  If not, then will today's science librarians
> have enough money in their budget to pay for the transfer of all of the
> old CD format publications into a newer archival format before their old
> CD drives conk out?  And how long *does* the protective plastic coating
> on a CD last, anyway?

This shows the disadvantage of digital publication but ignores the
advantage--namely, that absolutely perfect copies of digital
publications can be produced very easily.

The "strategy" behind paper publication is to create something that
will last a long time. The "strategy" behind digital publication is to
create something that may not last a long time, but will leave
flawless copies of itself before it is destroyed. Both "strategies"
have their advantages and disadvantages. Digital information is better
in one sense--since nothing lasts forever, the only way to achieve
"immortality" is through perfect replication. But--it is also easier
to alter or fudge digital information.

I think we are going to see major changes in the way scientific
publication works during the rest of this century as a result of
increased usage of digital information. The whole paradigm of "papers"
and "authors" might become supplanted by "databases" and
"contributors". I foresee a more efficient and ego-free digital system
taking over in the future--although ego will always be a factor to
some measure. But imagine the possibilities: a time when scientific
data becomes globally accessible as soon as it is recorded, and
explaining "W4TP" to students requires a brief history lesson!

That said, paper is certainly cheaper and has fewer requirements....

--Mike Keesey