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Old Apr 4, 2004, 10:48 AM   #1
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Default Archiving images for future generations

The Good Old Days weekly challenge got me to think about a major challenge facing Digital Camera Photography in the future, namely how are we going to preserve our digital images so future generations will be able to view them?
For the Good Old days Challenge many of us were able to rummaged through old albums and boxes of prints to locate pictures taken 50 - 75 years ago and share them with others thanks to a scanner and current technology. But what will happen if the same challenge is raised 50 or 75 years from now? how will anyone view an old family photo taken by a digital camera in 2004.
Current technology allows us to archive image files onto CDs Or DVDs but the disks have by all accounts a limited life of less than 10 years, and would the technology to read these disks survive for 50 or more years I doubt it. (Anyone still have the capability to read a 5 floppy disk?)
There has been a lot of discussion among Museum & Art Library archivists on this subject and they seem to have concluded that the most feasible current solution is to archive files to large hard drives. The current cost of hard drive is less than $1 per Gigabyte which is comparable to the costs of blank CDs and the general thought is that the life time expectations of these drives is excellent if stored properly, again however will the ability to read and retrieve the images from these disks survive for decades to come.
What are your thoughts on this subject?
What archiving options are there?
Will the software to view current file types survive?

** Im off now to see if I can locate an 8-track player, want listen to my music collection.**
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 11:56 AM   #2
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My feeling is that the digital images themselves may or may not disappear for various reasons (software, hardware changes, etc) and the ones that are preserved will be those that were good enough that they were printed. Just as you can rummage through your old photo albums, it is rare that you'll find the negatives but only the prints. Just my opinion
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 6:06 PM   #3
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The interface for the hard drives will eventually be unusable... people might know the standard, but you won't be able to find a card to hook them up with.

Even hard disk suffer from the same problem. At least the CD-Roms are not mechanical in nature. A hard drive wears out by use. A cd ages. Both are problems, but with different solutions.

It is a problem that most people really haven't understood yet. They might go "ya, ok... whatever". But they don't really grock that the RAW decoder might not run on any MicroSoft OS (if MS even still exists then) and the RAW format might not have been well documented. What do you do?

Eric
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 6:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohenry
and the ones that are preserved will be those that were good enough that they were printed.
But how long will the prints last, and in reality are that many digicam users bothering to print their family snaps. I know of 6 digicam users who are content to simply email their "snaps" to family & friends or send digital slide shows. Even on the rare occasion they print some shots they don't bother with special archive quality paper or inks.

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Originally Posted by eric s
At least the CD-Roms are not mechanical in nature.
The manufacturers of blank CD's estimate the life of recordable disks as 5-7 years, apparently the layers begin to separate and the disk disintegrates.
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 6:52 PM   #5
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I'm planning on using DVD for now. I expect computers will still be able to read them for many more years.

With any new technology that shows up, there will be overlap between the old and the new. I'll probably have a DVD and 'the new gizmo' at the same time for a little while. At that time, I'll transfer to the new preferred storage system.

Eventually, one will come about that will be with us for a very long time.
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 7:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Archiving images for future generations

Quote:
Originally Posted by deexley
Current technology allows us to archive image files onto CDs Or DVDs but the disks have by all accounts a limited life of less than 10 years, and would the technology to read these disks survive for 50 or more years I doubt it. (Anyone still have the capability to read a 5 floppy disk?)
I have music CDs that are more than ten years old and still working fine.

And as for the 5 floppy disk, I can still read those too!!!
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 7:31 PM   #7
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Because my business is reliant on digital photogrpahy, this is a potential problem I discuss with my CTO (Chief Technical Officer) husband. His job is to keep abread of bleeding-edge technolgy. I don't get satisfactory answers.

I recall him telling me not too many years ago that it would be YEARS before floppies went out of style. We have 9 PCs, and few have floppy drives.

I make prints of my better digital images, but in no way is this a satisfactory way to preserve all my images.

We are PC based, and I am hopefull that Gates et al will recognize our dilemma. I am hopeful!

As techology changes, we WILL be provided the option to translate our images to emerging technology.

It's tough sitting here with my toes and fingers crossed.
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 8:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Archiving images for future generations

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Originally Posted by JerryF
I have music CDs that are more than ten years old and still working fine.

And as for the 5 floppy disk, I can still read those too!!!
Granted Music Cd's are fine, but the life times I refer to apply to the blank writeable disks we burn ourselves.
I also still have a 5 1/4" disk drive but doubt I can find any disks for it.
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 8:43 PM   #9
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I think that we're forgetting that our photos will become locked in obsolete media only if we let it.

Yes, CDs and DVDs have a limited life. But by the time that time is up, there will be newer media.

Floppy drives are definately on the way out at the moment, but all that means if that people have to spend time backing all their floppy-archived data onto a DVD. Time consuming yes, but none of the data is lost.

Same thing with digital photos. In 5-10 years time, we'll all be collecting up our CD-R & DVD-R/DVD+R/DVD-RW/DVD+RW and burning the contents of dozens of them onto one CrystalMatrixCube or BioDisk or whatever comes along...

The problem of being able to still read the files is a slightly bigger isue, but only if software companies move away from their current stance and become less backward-Compatible.. Can anyone think of a file format that was in use 15 years ago that you coudn't open today?
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Old Apr 4, 2004, 9:14 PM   #10
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For those that don't know, music CDs are pressed, not burnt. Its a different process that what you use at home. Those last much longer.

PlatinumWeaver
I have many documents written on an Apple 2e that I can't read now. I also have some stuff from a TSR-80 from... well, that is probably 20 years ago. I'm not crying over not having it, but I certainly can't read it. The few good things have been printed out, so I'm not going to try to pay someone to recover the casette tapes.

I think the problem will be that people will *think* that their RAW files are readable but don't test it (their fault, yea) and then when they finally do want to read one they discover they can't.

Being in the software business, backwards compatability costs money. And after awhile it generates little. So backwards compatability in a land where you don't have service contracts (The home market, not big businesses) you can get away with dropping compatability after awhile because the customer can't do anything about it. It might not be in 5 years, but in 10? 15? Yes, I expect to have difficulty reading a Canon RAW from my 10D in 15 years.

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