From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Marie, you wrote a good situation report on acetate tape. But you also made
this statement of a philosophical nature, and it goes right to the centre of
the idea of archiving.
> Thoughts - we are only human and as we get older can we possibly listen to
> all that is offered?
----- actually it is not us who are going to listen to the various transfers.
That will be endless generations of seekers of information and enjoyment.
They will want breadth in the collection, the ability of the collection to
provide a relevant sound, irrespective of the context the end user is seeking
it in. Honestly, I think that they will thank breadth more than quality.
Although we are proud of our almost forensic skills in extracting the maximum
of signal, and preserving it in a quality decided by the deficiencies rather
than primary content of the recording, I think that far too much time is
being spent on transfers. A factor 30 (30 minutes of work for one minute of
recording) is not unknown in archive circles, and it is madness, if a useful
transfer can be done at a factor 10. Three times as much can be preserved! I
fully realize that in order to be able to prepare a continuous tape for
transfer a lot of cleaning and replacing of splices has to take place. But
why would you want to re-splice two pieces of tape if they are a minute long
each? Why not keep track of the bits and transfer the smaller pieces, to be
joined at any later stage and to any desired quality in the digital domain?
Ah, then you need leader tape at both ends. Yes, but these particular splices
will only have to withstand one play! I think that economy of time may be
made. But azimuth still has to be corrected at the time of transfer.
The linear listening means that finding a poorly indexed recording will
require very much time when searching for relevant material. I doubt that
future seekers will have the patience. The time spent on transfer could
probably be better spent at indexing. Listening 1:1 and writing down keywords
and other identifiers against a timecode is still only a factor 1! But
probably that is not good use of technically trained transfer specialists,
but there should be lots of summer jobs for budding oral historians.
I really think that we let the ideal stand in the way of the doable. I was
almost lynched when I stated something like this at the IASA Conference in
Vienna 1999, but I think that we need to rethink the idea of archiving for
the future. We will get no support from politicians who want society to have
a short memory, and an edited one at that. Try asking historians instead. I
am quite convinced that they would rather have authenticated copies in less
than mint-appearing quality than no copies at all, due to deselection because
of capacity problems.
Just my 2 cents worth (but at a factor 30 it is 60 cents!).