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

Richard Meyer meyerri at westnet.com.au
Sat Dec 22 21:31:31 WST 2007


Bitrot and what he seems to be talking about are different things -
bitrot AFAIK is the physical degradation of backup media - he seems to
be implying that in a few year's time the data will be unreadable
BECAUSE the application will have changed or disappeared. This is a MS
speciality - I wonder whether MS Office 2007 can open a Word 1 document


PS - that's the way I read it, anyway.

On Sat, 2007-12-22 at 19:33 +0900, William Kenworthy wrote:
> 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
> BillK
> 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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Richard Meyer <meyerri at westnet.com.au>
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. 
William Pitt, 1783

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