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Re: Titanosaurs from Malawi

> Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 18:45:06 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Paul Penkalski <turtlecroc@yahoo.com>
> Well.... I've already seen CDs lose data. I've got a couple that
> were burned within the past few years and now have scattered data
> errors.  (although they verified at the time they were burned).
> These are undamaged, name brand CDs that are much less than ten
> years old.  It will be very interesting to see what's left in 50
> years.

Agreed; yet all this talk of CDs is surely an irrelevance when it
comes to persistence of publication.  Absolutely the best way to put
information out such that it lives forever is to put it on the
Internet, bypassing all that tedious mucking about with physical media
altogether.  I am sure _many_ more people have read the PDF of Harris
& Dodson's _Suuwassea_ description than have seen it in the physical
pages of _Acta Palaeontologica Polonica_; and as people continue to
send each other PDFs, that information will always be out there.

The key insight here is that, unlike hardware, the software to read
various file formats does not decay over time.  It may now be
increasingly difficult to read punch-cards, paper tapes, mag-tapes and
5+1/4" floppies, and no doubt the day will come when it's hard to read
CDs; 3+1/2" floppies are already under threat.  But electronic files
live forever thanks to the wonder of 100% accurate copying -- not only
of the files themselves, but also of the software that reads them.

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor  <mike@miketaylor.org.uk>  http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  4GLs are nothing new: "sed" has been around for decades.

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