Happy New Year all around.
I think a big difference of opinion we have is that I think it's a Great Thing to have many
different formats/standards for the 5" laser disc. To me, that's insurance that reader/playback
drives will be made for a long time. The trend so far is that every time a new format/standard comes
along, soon afterward the manufacturing MO becomes universal players/drive that read/play ALL
previous formats. Look in a modern DVD player user manual and check out how many formats you can
play on these things, including photoCD (something I'd argue is a fringe format that never really
caught on with the masses) and data CD's full of MP3 and sometimes WinMedia files. And some players
now accept flash media so you can take pix and video cards right out of your digi-camera and look at
them right on your widescreen flat-panel (sometimes the flat-panels themselves take the cards
directly). My point is, this is truly a massive Mass Market and it's not going to just dry up
anytime soon. All these "issues" about the hi-def formats will get settled in the market and
universal players will then quickly happen -- if that doesn't happen in a couple of years please
regurgitate this message and tell me "I told you so."
As for CDR media, I don't see what your issue is. Of course a long-term archive should be on
migrated and mirrored hard drives nowadays. But CDR is cheap and available and I'd bet that
higher-grade media will be OK in proper storage conditions as a backup. What is much more worrisome
to me is a newcomer to this list getting an idea that CDR is a "bad format" and then doing a bunch
of transfers onto a single hard drive and having all that work just blow up and be unusable one day.
Hard drives are KNOWN to fail, and usually in a lot fewer than 10 years. CDR is THEORIZED to fail at
some point (what exact point seems to be a matter of great debate) when stored under proper
conditions (ie low dust, low light, low humiditiy, proper temp). So I would say to the small-scale
archivist or collector -- most certainly do make liberal use of CDR media but don't rely on it as
your ONLY digital format for the long-term. And for goodness sake, invest in a second disc drive and
at least keep a local mirror of everything. You'll be so grateful when that computer konks out one
day (hopefully the konk-out didn't take out your second hard drive, but my experience is you're
relatively safe if the second drive is external -- barring something like a massive power problem or
a house fire, of course).
If you have an extensive investment of time or your transfers are of great monetary or cultural
value, I'd argue that you gotta bite the bullet and go with managed storage with an off-site secure
backup system in place. But this expensive/complex/industrial-grade solution is just not appropriate
or in financial reach for most people on this list (ie small-scale archivists and collectors). One
relatively cheap/easy thing to do if you have just a few real treasures among an otherwise ordinary
collection of digital media is to simply FTP those treasures to your website if you have one. Most
website hosts these days give you a 1 gig or more of storage as part of the package, and more gigs
usually doesn't cost anything. The idea is, there's your remote backup. You of course can do much
better, but this is the cheap/easy/available solution for the small archive or collector. Make the
files inaccessible from your website if they have copyright or other sensitivities, of course. There
are also plenty of 3rd parties online who offer free or near-free file storage. For instance, gmail
and yahoo give you a 1 gig mailbox, so you can simply e-mail yourself a file or two. I'm sure this
all sounds crazy to the inustrial-strength crowd, but like I said, most members of this list don't
work for well-funded universities or professional data-management companies so they need
small-scale/low-cost solutions. I'm throwing out some "Kia" ideas here. If you can afford
"Cadillac," definitely go that way.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Spencer" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2008 10:17 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] CD-R question
> Here's where we diverge on opinion - there are currently (I think) 13 DVD specs (at least 6 of
> which are not recognized by the DVD patent- holder consortium), and now we have blu-ray and
> DVD-HD - a battle on many levels (one is the movie studios desire to continue to have a physical
> disc to sell that is not easily copied). This convoluted "soup" of formats (notwithstanding
> patent issues) does not convince me that the life of the CD will be greatly enhanced.
> Best regards,
> John Spencer
> BMS/ Chace LLC
> 1801 8th Ave. S. Suite 200
> Nashville, TN 37203
> office (615) 385-1251
> fax (615) 385-0153
> cell (615) 714-1199
> email: [log in to unmask]
> web: www.bmschace.com
> On Jan 5, 2008, at 8:15 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
>> You could think, once a medium goes out of "mass" status, how many years until all the playback
>> equipment dies and nothing new is being made? Well, when exactly? LPs haven't been a mass medium
>> for almost 2 decades now. Still plenty of turntables and cartridges available and the LP medium
>> has a healthy niche (some could argue more economically viable than most CD releases). How about
>> cassettes? They seem to be a quicker-to-the-grave medium. CD's passed cassettes in I believe the
>> early 90's. But cassettes are still a mass medium in some parts of the 3rd world. You can still
>> buy a variety of cassette decks and walkmans:
>> Now, there's also the argument that magnetic tape and grooved disks are technologies that can be
>> replicated with mid-20th century level or older technologies whereas CD playback is, well,
>> somewhat akin to rocket science.
>> But, 5" discs got another leg with the DVD medium and they might get yet another fresh wind with
>> hi-def discs. Blowing the other way is the wind of downloads and iPods -- where there are not
>> physical mass media but rather computer files transmitted over the Internet and then perhaps
>> around homes to media-less playback systems. I don't doubt the future is one without packaged
>> physical mass media for audio and video content, but it's not all there yet and the installed
>> and owned base of 5" discs is enormous (I _think_ that more CD's were sold worldwide so far than
>> all mesaured sales of all LPs since 1949 -- and that's not counting the fact that there might
>> be a 1:1 ratio or greater of pressed CD's to legal or illegal copies that are essentially
>> bit-by-bit replicas). Plus, as of now the quality of the 5" disc media is usually better than
>> what you can get over the ether on your media-less playback system (that will not be true
>> forever, indeed hopefully not for much longer).
>> So bottom line, I'll give the 5" discs another 50 years of viability but I don't think they will
>> be the dominant mass medium in the "first world" for too much longer -- and I think the places
>> still cassette-dominant will leapfrog over the 5" disc media and go right to the over-ether
>> media-less model. For what it's worth, I have a 1986 CD player that still works just fine. To my
>> great joy, it was designed future-looking enough to be able to play most CDR media. The make is
>> Teac and the price was not very high when I bought it as a poor college kid blowing some summer
>> loot, so this was no high-grade special machine in its day. My point is, 20-year- old CD
>> technology works fine in a modern context. I have no reason to believe my 2005 vintage Marantz
>> SACD/DVD/CD player won't work in 20 years. That would get past the 50-year-viability mark for
>> the CD medium (introduced 1982) and I betcha 5" disc players will be rolling off Asian assembly
>> lines for at least another decade, probably longer.
>> Let me just add that I think managed hard-drive-based archiving is a better idea nowadays and
>> will be an ever-better idea as the storage media get cheaper, denser and hopefully more
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2008 8:36 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] CD-R question
>>> At 08:11 PM 2008-01-05, John Spencer wrote:
>>>> Richard (and more so to Mr. Friedman),
>>>> Do we have any concrete expectations that CD drives will be available
>>>> in 50 years? Please point me to the information that guarantees that,
>>>> I would be happy to be reassured that CD drives will be available
>>>> then. I tend to be much more pessimistic about hardware/ software
>>>> availability given the 50-year target mentioned.
>>> Hi, John,
>>> Happy New Year!
>>> I think we'll be in as good or better shape playing back CDs in 50 years as we will be playing
>>> back reel tapes in 35-40 years which is approx the 50-year time frame that LoC was still
>>> advocating transfers to 2-track tapes.
>>> There are just too many, and they're not going to all break.
>>> As with any media, as the supply of machines dries up it's the archive's responsibility to
>>> migrate/reformat before they cannot. I think we've had this discussion before <smile>.
>>> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
>>> Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/ contact.htm
>>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.