The scourge of tape mould and laser rot | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


The scourge of tape mould and laser rot

Whatever the matter, it's news because it reminds us all of the essential instability of all our media. We have tended to think, for the past few decades, that each technological development has given us more space for storage, and so was an improvement: Audio cassettes were smaller than vinyl, and unscratchable; videotapes were much easier to use, and less vulnerable to damage, than celluloid film was. A two-hour videotape was also much smaller than a two-hour film reel.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Clay tablets of business records from thousands of years old are still readable by archaeologists, but our data from 10 years ago has already vanished. Far from a boon to knowledge, modern electronic storage means that this time in history will be a huge blank spot to future scholars, marked only by the monuments built to the vanity of our leaders.

Even with perfect storage media, the changing technology obsoletes the content. 100 years from now, how will anyone read a 9-track data tape, much less understand what is on it?

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