17.444 digital preservation

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Dec 10 2003 - 05:26:43 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 444.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

       [1] From: Maurizio Lana <m.lana@lett.unipmn.it> (41)
             Subject: Re: 17.436 digital preservation

       [2] From: Michael Hart <hart@beryl.ils.unc.edu> (107)
             Subject: Re: 17.439 digital preservation

       [3] From: "Olivia C. Williamson" <olivia@stanford.edu> (13)
             Subject: Re: 17.439 digital preservation

             Date: Mon, 08 Dec 2003 07:56:43 +0000
             From: Maurizio Lana <m.lana@lett.unipmn.it>
             Subject: Re: 17.436 digital preservation

    I must confess that i quite disagree with the assumptions underlaying the
    article of S. Garfinkel.

    I can make a clear example.
    He states: "Take, for example, the electrical standard (sometimes called
    IDE, now called ATA) that’s used by the disk drives in most PCs. Developed
    in the 1980s, the ATA interface has been significantly enhanced over the
    past 20 years. Yet with rare exceptions, you can take a hard disk drive
    from the late 1980s or early 1990s, plug it into a modern desktop computer,
    and read the files that the disk contains"
    "The Internet “Request For Comment” (RFC) series, started back in the
    1970s, is readable on practically every computer on the planet today
    because the RFCs were stored in plain ASCII text."
    "Music CDs and CD-ROMs created in the 1980s are still readable on today’s
    DVD drives. When the next generation of optical storage comes out, it’s
    likely to be backwards compatible as well. A disk drive unable to read old
    CDs would not be commercially viable."

    on the large time scale of historical preservation the "past 20 years" are
    no more than an instant.
    we need (would need) 'something' allowing us to 'read' the digital data not
    after 20 years, but after 200, or 500 years.
    what will a future scholar need in 2345 a.d. to read an HD of today? he
    will need a mix of hardware and software which is simply likely to be not
    available at all. i think that it is clear for everyone that the advantage
    and usefulness of the ascii format for the data is of very small importance
    compared to the problem of having in 2345 a.d. a machine able to read an HD
    of today.

    on the contrary, to read today an engraved stone on 500 years ago we need
    only some 'hardware independent software': we need to know the language
    used by the inscriptions and the graphical conventions used with the 'stone
    medium' (ligatures, abbreviations, ...)

    it's possible that the paper is unfortunately still the best medium to
    preserve our cultural heritage and to transmit it to the people of the near
    or far future.

    or we could envision a future of digital scriptoria with people endlessly
    copying data from one outdated source into many up to date copies. how much
    will be lost in this endless process is clear for everyone, i think.


    Maurizio Lana - ricercatore
    Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici - Università del Piemonte Orientale a Vercelli
    via Manzoni 8, I-13100 Vercelli
    +39 347 7370925

             Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 10:13:05 +0000
             From: Michael Hart <hart@beryl.ils.unc.edu>
             Subject: Re: 17.439 digital preservation

    I've been putting eBook on the Internet since 1971,
    and 99.9% of them can still be downloaded from
    hundreds or even thousands of sites in easy to
    read formats from gutenberg.net, even after 30
    years of the Computer Revolution.

    For example, a recent Google search for Taming
    of the Shrew, by Shakespeare, received ~12,500 hits.

    It's not likely that these files are going to be
    hard to use in the near future, as virtually every
    desktop and laptop has multiple programs that read
    them just fine, and also allow you to pick your own
    fonts, etc.

    These eBooks have always been available for Unlimited
    Distribution free of charge.

    There should be ~11,000 of them by then end of the
    2003 production year.


    For immediate release


    In 1971, Michael S. Hart invented the eBook by typing the United
    States Declaration of Independence on a mainframe computer. This was
    the start of Project Gutenberg, an ambitious effort to create a free
    public library of 10,000 electronic books or eBooks.

    In October 2003, Project Gutenberg added the 10,000th eBook to it's
    collection, The Magna Carta. Not content to rest, Hart announced a
    new goal: "We want to grow the collection to one million free eBooks,
    and distribute them to one billion people, for a total of one
    quadrillion eBooks to be given away by the end of the year 2015."

    Prof. Hart will give two presentations in the San Francisco area this
    week, outlining his plans for the future, as well as reflecting on the
    past and present state of eBooks. Both will feature CDs and DVDs with
    thousands of eBooks, free for duplication or redistribution.

    - Wednesday December 10 7:00 pm at the Golden Gate Club in the
    Presidio of San Francisco.

    - Thursday December 11 7:00 pm at the Berkeley Public Library.

    Both talks are free, and open to the public and members of the press.
    Prof. Hart will also be taping television appearances, and
    participating in a Project Gutenberg capacity building conference
    hosted at the Internet Archive over the weekend.

    Prof. Hart will discuss his invention of the eBook, and explain why he
    does not believe that simple scans or raw OCR (optical character
    recognition) output are true eBooks. He will explain advantages of
    eBooks over paper books, and show how a rich and vibrant public domain
    is the best possible path to creating greater opportunities for


    Project Gutenberg's mission is to break down the bars of ignorance and
    illiteracy, by creating and distributing free eBooks. During 2003,
    an average of over 80 new eBooks per week have been created, with
    the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world.

    The collection includes dozens of file formats, and 21 different
    languages, with over 46,000 files in 110 gigabytes. Project Gutenberg
    seeks to include all of the world's great literature, in all
    languages. Volunteers choose books that interest them, and work to
    turn books into eBooks by scanning or typing, then proofreading and
    preparing the final eBook. Nearly all Project Gutenberg eBooks are
    available in plain text format, in addition to any others, to insure
    their usability for future generations.


    The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation (PGLAF) was formed
    in 2000 to operate as the legal entity supporting Project Gutenberg.
    PGLAF receives donations, employs Prof. Hart and part-time office
    staff, and maintains organizational records. Dr. Gregory Newby
    volunteers as PGLAF's CEO.

    "We are pleased to host our first capacity building conference, and
    excited about Michael Hart's presentations in the San Francisco area.
    As Project Gutenberg embarks on the next phase in its creation of free
    eBooks, we will work to support a growing volunteer base, more
    partnerships, and a broader range of literary works," said Dr. Newby.

    PGLAF is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.


    Email inquiries to "press@pglaf.org". Prof. Hart will be available
    for telephone interviews and personal appearances while in San
    Francisco. From there, he will be visiting Hawaii, then Europe in
    February for scheduled presentations to UNESCO and other EU bodies, to
    encourage placing national literatures online and resisting copyright

    Reach the PGLAF business office at (801) 596 1887.

    Project Gutenberg is on the Internet at:

    The Project Gutenberg collection is hosted by iBiblio, the Public's
    Library at http://ibiblio.org, and mirrored (copied) around the world.

    The easiest way to help contribute to a Project Gutenberg eBook is
    to help proofread raw OCR output, a page at a time, at Project
    Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreaders:

    For information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation,
    and how to donate, see:


    I'm changing ISPs now,
    so my replies may not
    be as quick as usual.

    If you don't get a reply
    in two weeks, please resend.


    Happy Holidays!!!

    Give eBooks!!!

    As of December 07,
    ~10,660 FreeBooks at:
    ~9,330 to go to 20,000

    Michael S. Hart
    Project Gutenberg
    Executive Coordinator
    "*Internet User ~#100*"

             Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 10:14:15 +0000
             From: "Olivia C. Williamson" <olivia@stanford.edu>
             Subject: Re: 17.439 digital preservation

    > From: dgants@rogers.com
    > >
    >Lest one dismiss this and other example as phenomena that occur only in
    >past centuries, try to find a Seattle telephone book from the Reagan

    Well, my parents probably have one....but is depending on packrats an
    adequate preservation strategy?

    Olivia C. Williamson
    Stanford Graduate Fellow
    Management Science and Engineering
    Terman 429A, Stanford CA 94305

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