We are both speculating, heavily.
I hope we are both around in 50 years to see if 5" digital reader/playback devices are still readily
available. I would argue, they will be. I would say there is too much installed base all over the
world not to make it a viable business model for decades more.
But again, we are both speculating and only living 50 more years will give us the answer. I will
toast both of our good health over a glass of red wine with dinner!
--- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Spencer" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 10:05 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] CD-R question
> Good Morning Tom,
> I don't think you snipped the point I was trying to make. Here is a part of my post:
>> The quality of the music may be better, but the quality of the media (as evidenced by the
>> dumping of crappy CD-R media in every store, from Wal-Mart to Walgreens) does not relieve my
> My point here is that if someone is going to use CD-R media, PLEASE don't use the cheap-o stuff
> that you find literally everywhere. Furthermore, make multiple copies if you can with different
> batches of media. There have been many posts by experts about good and bad media types.
> Regarding any difference of opinion we may have, please understand that I am not advocating
> "managed storage with off-site backup" for the casual collector that wants to digitize his or her
> holdings. That's a pretty long leap from burning CD-Rs, and not one that I would recommend given
> the scenario. Additionally, I've never recommended people store files on hard drives - BAD
> The points I tried to make (and obviously didn't do a good job!) were:
> 1. We don't have any idea if optical media PLAYERS will be available in 50 years
> 2. Even if I bought a pallet full of CD players, I cannot guarantee they will operate in 50 years
> (even if I shrink-wrapped a technician to store with them)
> 3. The proliferation of various formats is not necessarily a good thing (you mention photoCD, I
> could add many more)
> 4. The CD players that are being built now are essentially "throw- aways" (read - junk)
> As you mentioned, there are many "in the cloud" storage options that could be considered as
> alternate backup locations (Amazon S3, .mac accounts, etc.). They are popping up every day -
> however, they too may go out of business and I'm out of luck....but for now, they are realistic
> backup alternatives that are extremely cheap. External drives as you mentioned are good as well.
> In the archival world, I guess they call it "geographical separation" - I would refer to it as
> "covering your backside".
> It is not a "Kia" vs. "Cadillac" scenario, there are many "Chevrolet - Ford" solutions out there
> (but ouch, I hate making digital storage comparisons to car manufacturers.....).
> At the end of the day, the collector that occasionally scans this list and draws the conclusion
> that "make a CD-R and you'll be fine" is, in my opinion, leaving with a misguided mandate.
> I have NO problem with well-made CD-Rs - but you have to factor in the reality that you will
> probably have to migrate those as well sometime, to whatever "flavor of the year" is regarding
> digital storage available to the masses.
> Actively managed storage can take many forms, from full-scale monoliths with high costs, to
> simply pulling the CD-Rs you have off of the shelf every 3-5 years and bumping them to another
> John Spencer
> BMS/ Chace LLC
> email: [log in to unmask]
> web: www.bmschace.com
> On Jan 6, 2008, at 7:18 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>> Hi John:
>> 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
>>> 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
>>>> 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.