5.0210 Archiving Etexts (2/48)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 4 Jul 91 15:48:30 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0210. Thursday, 4 Jul 1991.

(1) Date: 3 July 91, 02:37:16 EDT (20 lines)
From: R12040 at UQAM
Subject: Re: 5.0207 Archiving Etexts

(2) Date: Wed, 03 Jul 91 21:53:31 EDT (28 lines)
From: John Unsworth <JMUEG@NCSUVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0207 Archiving Etexts

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 3 July 91, 02:37:16 EDT
From: R12040 at UQAM

Richard Ristow's comments on archiving are, in my opinion, right on-
target. The preservation of scholarly work, irrespective of the medium
in which it appears, seems to be worthwhile. I've often heard it said
that 50% of what is being published today is, or will be, wrong or
worthless, later on. The problem is, we don't know which 50% it is,
until we have the advantage of historical perspective.
Electronic media have created (at least) two problems. One is the
archiving problem which Ristow refers to; the second is the apparent
exponential increase is the physical amount of text-information. Among
other things, this implies to me that the archiving problem needs to be
carefully addressed very soon, where, by "archiving", I mean as does
Ristow, /permanent/ archiving.
And finally, when all else is said and done, I rather like the tactile
and the visual sensibilities of a well-bound hardback book (hopefully
on acid-free paper, etc.)
(Harry Whitaker)

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------34----
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 91 21:53:31 EDT
From: John Unsworth <JMUEG@NCSUVM>
Subject: Re: 5.0207 Archiving Etexts (1/72)

In response to Richard Ristow's very reasonable observations about the
archiving of electronic text, I'd like to make two points, using PMC as
an example:

--the real problem with electronic journals comes, as Richard says, when
the journals cease to publish. The files that make up PMC's back issues
exist on a mainframe owned by NC State, and it seems reasonable to assume
that as long as the journal is extant, the media on which its files are
stored will be kept up to date. However, if PMC stops publishing, what will
happen to back issues?

--the answer to this, and to the question of how to make PMC available to
libraries that don't have the resources to deliver e-text directly to their
patrons, has been microfiche. It's very easy and very inexpensive to dump
electronic text from mainframe storage onto tape or cassette, and then to
have that cassette made into microfiche. Microfiche is widely used, lasts
a reasonably long time, and is easy to reproduce.

I'm not suggesting that e-journals ought to be distributed on fiche rather
than on the nets, but I do think that making a microfiche version of e-journals
available is a good idea, specifically because of concerns about archiving.

John Unsworth
Co-editor, _Postmodern Culture_