This article from last year provides an alarming look into the woes that media preservation (specifically audio and video) is facing this century due to a content explosion that shows no signs of...
This article from last year provides an alarming look into the woes that media preservation (specifically audio and video) is facing this century due to a content explosion that shows no signs of slowing down. It’s not a new problem, as journalist Bill Holland showed nearly 20 years ago (warning, it’s a long read).
To summarize: In the past, many predecessors to existing media studios did a bad job of archiving their collections of recorded material. In some cases they actively destroyed or threw out parts of their catalogs to make way for new material. This wiped out portions of the available media to be preserved, especially the older stuff. Now that most studios have improved their archival practices though, their remaining catalogs are facing a new foe: Moore’s Law.
The problem with LTO (tapes) is obsolescence. Since the beginning, the technology has been on a Moore’s Law–like march that has resulted in a doubling in tape storage densities every 18 to 24 months. As each new generation of LTO comes to market, an older generation of LTO becomes obsolete… Already there have been seven generations of LTO in the 18 years of the product’s existence… Given the short period of backward compatibility — just two generations — an LTO-5 cartridge, which can still be read on an LTO-7 drive, won’t be readable on an LTO-8 drive. So even if that tape is still free from defects in 30 or 50 years, all those gigabytes or terabytes of data will be worthless if you don’t also have a drive upon which to play it.
If the worst case scenario were to happen, this is apparently what it would look like according to “a top technician at Technicolor”:
“There’s going to be a large dead period,” he told me, “from the late ’90s through 2020, where most media will be lost.”
But not everyone is that worried, the article also includes this counterpoint,
“Most of the archivists I spoke with remain — officially at least — optimistic that a good, sound, post-LTO solution will eventually emerge.”
/u/boredop and I have been discussing the implications of this in the thread they posted a few days ago about a John Coltrane release, and in the course of that discussion they provided that second link to Bill Holland’s multi-part investigation (thanks!).
So my question is this: What direct or indirect measures would you theoretically take to prevent or mitigate the loss of the vast majority of recorded media from 1990 to 2020? Should any measures be taken to preserve these cultural artifacts?
By direct measures I mean innovations to physical archiving or storage methods. By indirect measures I mean public awareness, strategies for choosing what to save, workarounds, etc.