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avoiding a Digital Dark Age

link to an americanscientist.org article from Kurt D. Bollacker
thanks jwildeboer for twittering

"Data longevity depends on both the storage medium and the ability to decipher the information

...When I was a boy, I discovered a magnetic reel-to-reel audio tape recorder that my father had used to create “audio letters” to my mother while he was serving in the Vietnam War. To my delight (and his horror), I could listen to many of the old tapes he had made a decade before. Even better, I could make recordings myself and listen to them. However, all of my father’s tapes were decaying to some degree—flaking, stretching and breaking when played. It was clear that these tapes would not last forever, so I copied a few of them to new cassette tapes. While playing back the cassettes, I noticed that some of the sound quality was lost in the copying process. I wondered how many times I could make a copy before there was nothing left but a murky hiss..." read the article

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