[plug] FOSS condemned for data archival - don't let it go unchallenged

William Kenworthy billk at iinet.net.au
Sat Dec 22 19:33:50 WST 2007

As far as I know, the formal term for data degradation over time is
bitrot.  Its long been known and any software (OS or propriety) will
suffer from this over time.  I doubt OS is any worse or better than
prop. software though.

google for: bitrot data storage


On Sat, 2007-12-22 at 18:48 +0900, Gavin Chester wrote:
> I subscribe to "New Scientist" and often get behind in reading the
> weekly editions, so only just got onto the 8th Dec issue ...
> In that issue, an article by one Paul Marks titled "Hold on to your best
> bits" he writes about the old chestnut of data archiving in the digital
> age and how transient much of it is. But, he gobsmacked me by writing
> this passage:
> "Another problem for archivists comes from open source software [sic -
> note lack of capitals for these pronouns], which is popular with
> scientists because of its low cost and the ability to modify it to suit
> the need of a particular experiment. If part of an experiment uses an
> open-source program for capturing data, there is no guarantee that it
> will still be available on the web at a later date or won't have changed
> significantly. The APA says the scientists archiving data will also have
> to archive any software they use."
> That last issue is a good rule of thumb for any software application
> used, but even moreso for proprietary software where the code is not
> available to see how a particular data format was created.
> Should we let this insidious and innaccurate attack on FOSS go
> unchallenged? Should we mount a letter attack on the author through the
> 'letters' page? Can anyone point to _short_, lucid academic argument
> rebutting the author?
> If you are planning to write as I suggest, then contact me off list and
> I will give the email address and forward you a pdf of the full article.
> Gavin 
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William Kenworthy <billk at iinet.net.au>
Home in Perth!

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