[plug] FOSS condemned for data archival - don't let it go unchallenged
billk at iinet.net.au
Sat Dec 22 21:43:34 WST 2007
No, your reading only one of the definitions (dont believe wikipeadia! -
though it is mentioned in this context towards the bottom) I prefer one
of my old uni lecturers on this from back in the 90's. We had a guest
lecturer who had something to do with the national archives and who had
all these stories about data degradation and having to store not only
the data, but the programs, operating systems and hardware.
The theory is that the older a data set is, the likely hood of not being
able to use it increases with age - whether its error in the data
storage itself, or not having the software to read it, or the operating
system to run the software to the hardware to run the operating system.
As far as OS goes, thinking about the context, yes if OS is being widely
used in science, then it will be vulnerable. There is little in OS that
makes it less vulnerable to this effect than propriety software.
On Sat, 2007-12-22 at 21:31 +0900, Richard Meyer wrote:
> 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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William Kenworthy <billk at iinet.net.au>
Home in Perth!
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