Rocks Don't Need to Be Backed Up
Mar 27, 2009, 17:02 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Henry Newman)
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"As we stood wondering at this archaeological marvel, my wife,
ever mindful of how I spend the bulk of my time, blurted out,
"Rocks do not need backing up!"
"Luckily for me, no one backs up data to stone anymore, with the
possible exception of the Rosetta project, but my wife raised an
important point: electronic data storage and preservation raises a
host of technological concerns that the builders of the obelisk
never had to consider. Just try reading your backup tape, archived
DVD or old Word file after 10 years, much less after thousands of
"Electronic data faces format, migration and data integrity
issues that hard copies don't, although they have their own
preservation issues, as archaeologists and document preservation
specialists could tell you.
"In some ways, the Egyptians with their simpler approach were
far better off than we are at recording and saving information.
Just look at the well preserved obelisk as you consider all the
formats you probably have lying around that can no longer be
accessed, from 5.25-inch floppy disks to 8-track tapes and old home
movies. What would it take to preserve those for 3,500 years?"