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Not sure if and where this fits.

December 15 2006 at 9:20 PM
London  (no login)

Response to Project Specifications Outline

There are growing concerns over data loss as of recent. It should be noted that the last 20 years have had the most documentation recorded of any in the history of man, but it may be one of the darkest 200 years from now.

The issue isn't data corruption, but forgetting how to translate that material. Codecs, knowledge of file types, data storage and retrival systems, are all changing so fast. This is leading to so much data being rendered in comprehenceable by future generations (when all knowledge of PDF format is lost, try deciferng a PDF document from only the document itself). Some formats are becoming obsolete within 6 months. The formats are ever changing to drive profits. You just gotta have that next version of WORD don't you?

I could go on, but Popular Mechanics made a very good document addressing this problem.

The moral of this story is that any project should have solid archiving structure established before it even begins.

Rudimentary file types, while unwieldly, should be chosen for documentation. TXT, RTF, BMP, and JPG are all long standing filetypes that will last to ensure that your project will be reviveable in the future, even after decades of dormancy.

If hard copies are not logistically feasable, consider renewed efforts to upgrade stored data to newer standards and systems (Floppy > CD > DVD > HDDVD > Isolinear Memory Crystal > ETC). Or maintain an operable system that can deal with this data, a complete computer system that doesn't have to rely on emulators.

Any file formats, and file systems that arise out of this project, should be well documented in the afore mentioned formats. In the event that programs able to decifer files created by the project are lost, the format can still be salvaged with adiquate knowledge of the algorythms, codecs, formats, compressions, etc. This also alows future use of the data by second parties, if the project ever becomes main stream.

In conclusion, this is the "global warming" of the information world. The future of data and archives are glossed over at best during projects, and will soon lead to an informational catastrophe in the future. (read the popular mechanics article, its worse than you think). While this sort of consideration will not expand profit margins, it will lead to an informational collapse in the future. The only answer to this question may be a governmental one, ie. to sell software, you must have it well documented and said documents deposited in a central repository.

Hope this is relevent in the least.

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