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 confidence.

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 decision.

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 batch.

John Spencer
BMS/ Chace LLC
email: [log in to unmask]

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
> <snip>
>> 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.
> <snip>
>> Best regards,
>> John
>> 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:
>> 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:
>>> video&field-keywords=cassette%20player
>>> 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 reliable.
>>> -- 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>.
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Richard
>>>> Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
>>>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
>>>> Detailed contact information:  
>>>> contact.htm
>>>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.