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ARSCLIST  May 2007

ARSCLIST May 2007

Subject:

Re: Mass Digitization

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 16 May 2007 21:05:05 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (282 lines)

You seem to have the best luck of anyone I know with DATs. Were I in your shoes, I would accept that 
this is luck and back up all my DATs to hard drive with proper mirroring and migrations.

That said, I too have DATs made in the very early 1990's that play back with minimal indicated error 
corrections and no audible errors. But playing them back is mainly an experiment since they were 
long ago transferred to hard drive and the WAVs saved on archival CDR's.

My theory on DATs is that some or most brands seem to hold up OK and if they're stored properly the 
tape seems to have a decades long life. But, as we know, since this is digital tape, one section 
full of dropouts wreaks havoc.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Lennick" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 8:29 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization


> Would anyone care for a good news report re DAT? The subject comes up every so often. I began 
> transferring anything that passed through my hands to DAT in 1992 or '93, and I have yet to have 
> an unplayable tape from those days. I pulled one out last night because I needed one track that 
> I'd transferred in 1996..on a used tape that was 5 years old THEN. It played perfectly. The tape 
> was a Maxell R120DM.
>
> dl
>
> Andes, Donald wrote:
>> Hey Tom,
>>
>> I believe every archive has been bit by some sort of migration issue,
>> and basically, you can trace it back to decision making that wasn't
>> either well planned, understood, or funded.
>>
>> I've heard that before my time at EMI, a few large scale digital
>> initiatives were started and abandoned. As I said, it was before my
>> time, so I don't actually have the facts, just the passed on oral
>> traditions.
>>
>> But migration is life, as no media lasts indefinitely. We are however in
>> a much better position digitally that we were 10 years ago. Converters
>> and file formats rival the Sonics of analog. Media/format solutions such
>> as LTO are far more accepted and open source than Exabyte, and there are
>> other industries which are struggling with the same issues as we,
>> therefore there more people working towards a solution that could be
>> used to benefit all. But most importantly, I feel that after learning
>> from past mistakes, we can all see the importance of planning a project
>> through the initial phase of the transfer, and building in metadata and
>> future migration paths from the impetus.
>>
>> Those Exabytes may have been saved if there was follow up money allotted
>> up front. The problem was that in most cases all the money for migration
>> was spend on the transferring. There are many fields (medical and
>> financial come to mind) that have been migrating digital data for 20
>> years. They've used Exabytes, and they got off them before their data
>> went bad.
>>
>> That's why I advocate NOT transferring until you've really thought it
>> through, and secured the funding you'll need to see it through to the
>> next phase. Anything less is a wasted effort.
>>
>> Don Andes
>> Director of Archives
>> EMI Music
>>
>>
>>
>>  -----Original Message-----
>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 4:11 PM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization
>>
>> Hi Don:
>>
>> Somewhat related to your posting, I have a question. You probably have
>> hands-on experience with the topic.
>>
>> In the mid-90's I remember at one large mega-glomerate's remastering
>> facility, exabyte (sp?) became all the rage. The argument was made to
>> "clone" all the 1630 masters and then throw them out. But, a couple of
>> years in, the exabyte tapes(?) started malfunctioning randomly. Luckily,
>> the wiser producers insisted on keeping their 1630 tapes in the library,
>> so no harm no foul in those cases. But some pretty darn good remasters done in the late 80s onto 
>> 1630 and
>> then "cloned" to exabyte and the 3/4" 1630 tape reused or discarded were
>> lost and had to be done over. Some of this was all good because the
>> master tapes were still in good shape and the new remasters were better
>> anyway. But in some cases, the tapes were lost or had been in bad shape
>> 10 years earlier and were unplayable by the late 90's.
>>
>> Did you guys have any situations like that?
>>
>> I tell this tale because exabyte was apparently the migratory flavor of
>> the moment at one time and we should keep stories like this in mind as
>> we migrate digital archives over time. The lesson I take away is that
>> the latest might not be so greatest so best to run parallel formats (old
>> and latest) at least until some knowledge can be gained of the
>> weaknesses and pitfalls of the new format.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Andes, Donald" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 5:46 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization
>>
>>
>> Karl,
>>
>> It seems you've addressing a few points here so I'll respond to each
>> accordingly.
>>
>> 1) The subject of Audio Archeology:
>> I don't believe there is a cohesive understanding of the state of our
>> Recorded History and without this, it is difficult to determine the
>> scope of the problem. In the business world, a key to understanding
>> scope and solving problems is to apply metrics to a situation. For
>> example, calculating what assets are lost or deteriorating, and what
>> rate we are losing assets.
>>
>> This is obviously difficult, time consuming, and comes with a lot of
>> variables like:
>>
>> -How are the loss of an intermediaries calculated?
>> -How much deterioration is considered "deteriorating"?
>>
>> Most institutions do this internally with their assets, and once
>> determined, the next step is reviewing the loses (or potential loses)
>> and determining if they are sustainable (which means: do nothing);
>> concerning (which means: develop a plan, without a guarantee of
>> funding), or vital (which means: here's blank check, get it fixed)
>>
>> I can tell you that in most cases, vital is non-existent, which leaves
>> sustainable, or concerning.
>>
>> Developing concerning into actual funding takes a well developed plan
>> that is fiscally feasible.
>>
>> It's most likely that our Archeologist friends are better than we at
>> developing cost effective plans to achieve their goal, which may be
>> easier when justifying project costs against the collection of
>> "priceless" artifacts. It is also very possible that we're comparing
>> apples to oranges, as they most likely have very different funding
>> sources.
>>
>>
>> 2) The under appreciation/underpaying of Library and Archiving staff:
>> The world today (more than ever) comes down to profitability. Since
>> libraries don't make profits, it falls in line that there not going to
>> be handling out high paying jobs working for a Library. High paying jobs
>> can easily be had in the Finance, Legal, and Medical worlds. This has
>> been true for years, but for librarians the cold hard facts haven't
>> sunken in. Do I believe they should be paid more, of course I do. But do
>> I think they ever will, not in my lifetime.
>>
>> The fact is that we have massive amounts of history from the 1900's in
>> every field. Are we missing important stuff, sure we are. But the
>> unfortunate fact is that not enough people care enough about what's
>> missing. And more so, not enough profitability can be had from
>> collecting what was lost, to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
>>
>> Think of it: That lost treasure of sound, that we thought the world
>> would never hear again. Suddenly found, in pristine condition....How
>> many downloads, CD's excetera could you possibly sell? Unless it the
>> Beatles or Elvis it's most likely a lot LESS than you would think.
>>
>>
>> 3) Metadata concerns:
>> Here's the white elephant in the room. Everyone wants to
>> preserve/transfer/digitize, but guess what??? If you don't have a
>> complete and correct metadata standard in place, you'll probably do more
>> harm then good. Once things are transferred, the value of storing the
>> original drops (to the non archivist) and people assume that they'll
>> never need to go back to it. That is until, we try to understand what
>> the heck the file is, since your metadata seems spotty, and possibly
>> incorrect.
>>
>>
>> 4) Formatting/Migration issues:
>> Yikes. This was hiding being the white elephant called metadata. And
>> again, unless you figure this out UP FRONT, why bother digitizing?
>>
>>
>> 5) And finally to address your last statement:
>> I think the archiving world has it's blinders on, and needs to pull
>> back, rationalize a bit, and find it's place in the modern world of
>> business, technology, culture, and government. It's not effort or caring
>> that this industry lacks; it's scope, direction and rational.
>>
>> Don Andes
>> Director of Archives
>> EMI Music
>>
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Karl Miller
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 8:52 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mass Digitization
>>
>> "Andes, Donald" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:    ***The issue in my
>> mind is scale because most in the archival
>> industry are seeing a box, or room full of tapes, and have not had the
>> opportunity to see over 1 million assets in a single location, nor
>> contemplated what to do with them.
>>
>> ***If we (the archival industry) can't get a digitization schema to be
>> cost effective, we simply won't get the funds to digitize.
>>
>>   ***Worse, if someone outside the archival industry, gets "their" plans
>> in motion, you can rest assure that it will not be done anywhere near
>> correct.
>>
>>   ***Unfortunately people don't change, and no matter how many positive
>> reasons you give to migrate, those entrenched in analog will want to
>> stay there.
>>
>> ***I believe there should be communal, parallel thinking in regards to
>> mass digitization strategies, metadata collection and so forth. I am
>> aware of library groups focusing specifically on metadata, but I have my
>> own concern with their focus, and priorities in regards to collecting
>> metadata on A/V assets.
>>
>>   I appreciate the perspective you bring and I agree with most of what
>> you write.
>>
>>   The other day I was watching a program on the archaeological work at
>> an early fort in the US. I noticed how many people were sifting through
>> the layers of soil looking for fragments of pottery, arrowheads, and the
>> like. I then thought of the estimates of analog audio in need of
>> reformatting...by one estimate, 30Million hours. One can question if all
>> that audio really should be reformatted, as the determination of what
>> should survive can, even under the best of circumstances, be subjective.
>> However, why is it that our society sees it appropriate to devote such
>> substantive resources to archaeology while our recorded history crumbles
>> on the shelf?
>>
>>   My concerns are not necessarily limited to those outside of the
>> archival arena. I can only reflect on what I observe at my own
>> institution. We recently advertized for an opening for someone to do
>> reformatting. They wanted an individual conversant in Final Cut Pro,
>> Protools and older analog audio formats. The job was advertized at
>> minimum wage...19 hours a week...at 19 hours a week, the University
>> would not have to pay benefits like medical, etc. Also, at our
>> institution,  it was proposed that a unique collection of orchestral
>> performances be digitized by work study employees. Obviously, even
>> within the profession at my institution, there is little respect given
>> to the skills required to do the work or what it costs to pay them.
>> Then, what were the priorities for this project? The relatively stable
>> mylar based reel to reel tapes were the priority. Lacquer discs were not
>> even discussed as needing reformatting.
>>
>>   As to the metadata concerns... I recenty read the document "Best
>> Practice Guidelines for Digital Collections at the University of
>> Maryland Libraries." For anyone sincerely concerned with these issues, I
>> would recommend reading it. It is clearly a very well intentioned
>> document, however, it seems to be have been written by those with no
>> technical background. Their attempt to provide basic definitions is
>> wrought with statements that I found so confusing, I was left with
>> little sense of what they were trying to convey. It seems that we cannot
>> even agree on definitions. And, with less than 4% of the total budgets
>> of the ARL libraries devoted to preservation, I am left to wonder if our
>> libraries place much significance to the preservation of our
>> intellectual history. I am not encouraged much by what I read and
>> observe.
>>
>>   While those of us who value this history work hard at changing
>> attitudes and priorities, I wonder how we might be able to do a better
>> job at convincing those empowered to make changes to realign priorities.
>> Maybe our strategy needs to focus not on the inside, but on the outside.
>> In short, I wonder, who really does place value on our recorded history.
>>
>>   Karl
>>
> 

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