German Archivists Go Retro for Data Preservation

11.7.2006

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German archivists have found a way to store and access digital data for centuries -- convert it to analog. The data pool in the universe is continuously growing. More and more information is being saved digitally on CDs and DVDs -- but these thin silver disks have a life-span of only about five years. That may be sufficient for the average user at home or work, but archives and libraries face the threat of massive loss. At the end of June, specialists gathered for a colloquium in the library at the University of Stuttgart. They met to conclude the so called ARCHE project, which sought a long-term solution for storing digital data -- and found one. "We always get laughed at when we say we save digital data on microfilm. But at the moment we see that as the only automated way to process large quantities of data and still be able to have analog data storage with the highest possible information density," said Thomas Wendel, who is responsible for archive operations at the University of Stuttgart's library. The lifespan of parchment is 200 times longer than that of a CD or DVD. With a 500-year lifespan, color microfilm is only half as good as Constantine's parchment, but is 100 times better than CDs and DVDs. Source: Deutsche Welle.
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