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Data Storage Technology

Data Preservation and How Ancient Egypt Got It Right 313

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the keep-buying-the-white-album dept.
storagedude writes to tell us that a storage geek has an interesting article on why ancient Egyptians were better than us at data preservation — and what we need to do to get caught up. "After rocks, the human race moved on to writing on animal skins and papyrus, which were faster at recording but didn't last nearly as long. Paper and printing presses were even faster, but also deteriorated more quickly. Starting to see a pattern? And now we have digital records, which might last a decade before becoming obsolete. Recording and handing down history thus becomes an increasingly daunting task, as each generation of media must be migrated to the next at a faster and faster rate, or we risk losing vital records."
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Data Preservation and How Ancient Egypt Got It Right

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  • by ddrueding80 (1091191) * on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:46PM (#27364879)
    As recording things became easier, more things were recorded. At some point we began recording things that no-one will ever care about, and now keep things recorded that we didn't even know were recorded (care to see my router logs?). The less significant something is, the less we need to worry about preserving it. Of course, there are things worth preserving, but most of it just isn't.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:11PM (#27365219)

      The problem is, you don't necessarily know NOW which things will be worth preserving.

  • Legal Requirements (Score:5, Informative)

    by DotNM (737979) <matt@NoSpAM.mattdean.ca> on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:46PM (#27364893) Homepage
    A lot of data retention is because of legal requirements. At the bank I work at, we're required to keep *everything* for at least seven years - all our emails are archived, instant messenger communications, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jurily (900488)

      A lot of data retention is because of legal requirements. At the bank I work at, we're required to keep *everything* for at least seven years - all our emails are archived, instant messenger communications, etc.

      As society gets larger and dehumanized, soon that'll be all we have.

      It doesn't matter, whether you lived in a house for 30 years and all the neighbors know you. If you don't have a piece of paper with a stamp on it, it doesn't matter. One Thursday, you'll see Yellow in the bathroom mirror.

    • A lot of data retention is because of legal requirements.

      Well, it's for lots of requirements really. Pretty much wherever information can be useful for more than real-time decision making, you'll see archiving.

      Nothing new in this story. Peter Quinn made a much more interesting case when he spoke of Sovereignty in the context of citizen's own rights of access to their historical records, and the onus on governments to preserve that data in a format that belongs to the people (i.e., a non-proprietary format

  • by syntap (242090) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:47PM (#27364905)

    I don't know of any other way to preserve our pr0n on rocks.

  • So write it on rocks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gatkinso (15975)

    Etch barcodes into rocks.

  • AS technology changes, so will the format of the data.
    Sure, in days of yore, before everyone had hard drives, and data cluster, certain technologies would become obsolete and reader would go away. Those days are gone.

    As everything moves to the 'cloud' the data will be stored forever.
    well, OK, until something happens that destroys all the 'nodes' that are housing data.

    • Re:no they don't. (Score:5, Informative)

      by peragrin (659227) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:03PM (#27365113)

      you don't have to destroy the nodes. Destroy the power plants, and the cloud evaporates.

        The North east blackout of 2003 showed us. In a blink all of our data retention methods fail. Portable generators won't last long enough.

      what is needed is two things. a way to store electricity that isn't chemical(battery), and multiple methods of power generation. So we aren't dependent on any one source. Local power storage and generation(Heck even 5kw on the roof of your home will pay for your air conditioning) will take the burden off the power grid. and then the cloud can still be up there.

      Also storage on the cloud? are companies really that stupid? Clouds can be seen by everyone there won't be any truly secure cloud storage.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        what is needed is two things. a way to store electricity that isn't chemical(battery

        This part can probably be handled by memristors.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fëanáro (130986)

          what is needed is two things. a way to store electricity that isn't chemical(battery

          This part can probably be handled by memristors.

          No, that is what capacitors do.

      • by timeOday (582209)

        Also storage on the cloud? are companies really that stupid? Clouds can be seen by everyone there won't be any truly secure cloud storage.

        Companies have their own little internal "clouds." I don't know or care where the fileservers I use physically reside, when a hard drive breaks, or when they replace a server. It's just there.

        And how can you say all data retention methods failed in a blackout? No data was lost.

    • You mean like "all the nodes" [slashdot.org] that stored WebHostingTalk's data? "All the nodes" [slashdot.org] that were hosting Ma.gnolia bookmarks? "All the nodes" [slashdot.org] running Journalspace?

      In the cloud, you can't tell who's a dog. I was stunned at every one of these events, which was totally preventable. But I read everything I could about each one, in order to be sure to avoid their mistakes.

      You've got to ask the hard questions about how your data is being handled when you entrust it to somebody in the cloud.

    • As everything moves to the 'cloud' the data will be stored forever. well, OK, until something happens that destroys all the 'nodes' that are housing data.

      I can see it now. Researchers, historians and authors who relied on hand-written letters written home by soldiers in the Civil War, for example, now have it easy. Instead of painstakingly sifting through carefully maintained archives, they can just use Yahoo! and Gmail to do the same for their new book on Iraq. For everything else, they can Google like

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)

        Orwell's loss of history was no accident. Not carelessness. It was a deliberate attack on it, to make it fit particular viewpoints.

        A contemporary example would be the re-representing of the "founding fathers" as secular individuals.

        In Soviet Russia it was the brutal repression of all knowledge of the state that went immediately before it. All history was but a "detail" not to be given much attention. All you needed to know about history is that it lead to the "great leader" taking control.

        Historically many

  • "Got it right"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:53PM (#27364979)

    I'm not sure if they "got it right". After a few thousand years we have yet to agree on what they were even writing.

  • Preserving gibberish (Score:5, Informative)

    by spacefiddle (620205) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {elddifecaps}> on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:54PM (#27364993) Homepage Journal

    Interesting, TFA goes on about strategies for making sure stuff lasts. But he even touches on the more interesting facet of this briefly - no one can read the damn Hieroglyphs any more, so what does it matter that it lasted 4000 years?

    What is more interesting to me is a way to cheaply, efficiently, include a sort of Rosetta Stone along with archival data meant for long-term storage. Hell, even the devices themselves... he talks at the end a bit about format issues, frex. Some kind of key to the interface or logic needed to reconstruct the method of reading the medium..? Anyone got a wax cylander lying around? If you ran across one, how long would it take you to be able to hear what was on it - and what're the odds of you damaging it in the process, especially if you had to dig up schematics and build a player yourself..?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by feyhunde (700477)
      Well from what I learned on Tech TV it's really easy to break... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4GYg-5AdRw [youtube.com]
      • by Jurily (900488)

        Well from what I learned on Tech TV it's really easy to break...

        Most people today wouldn't even understand Shakespeare [suite101.com]. You may get the words right, but you don't have the cultural background to understand much deeper.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      no one can read the damn Hieroglyphs any more

      I thought we (or at least some people) can - thanks to a thing called the...?

      Rosetta Stone

      Correct. You win an internet.

      Perhaps my irony meter is due for a service, but I get the impression that whoever wrote the slashvertisment^H^H^H^H^H article didn't know that either, though it uses the word "Rosetta" at least fifteen times per sentence.

    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:38PM (#27365527) Homepage Journal

      The Rosetta Disk [rosettaproject.org] has spiraling text that gets smaller and smaller, telling you implicitly that what you need is a magnifier. It doesn't explain how to build a microscope, though.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      no one can read the damn Hieroglyphs any more, so what does it matter that it lasted 4000 years?

      Actually, I can read some Hieroglyphics. For example, the ones in the article's picture refer to something about "DVMCAIIXV takethdown notyce for CovpyriGt Infrryngemynt" or something like that.

      At the bottom it is signed by the "RIVV".

    • by Burdell (228580) on Friday March 27, 2009 @09:06PM (#27366417)

      The Rosetta Stone for this era will be all the multilingual manuals for microwave ovens, DVD players, cameras, phones, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Evil Pete (73279)

      no one can read the damn Hieroglyphs any more

      Sorry but this is pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo. Hieroglyphs have been readable for about 180 years now. No mystery at all. Just google for hieroglyphs or Champollion or Rosetta Stone.

  • Why would a future generation want to read about me? Why ruin a perfectly good rock with a biography? ;)

    Actually it's an interesting topic. On the other hand, we have a lot of backups now. We are much more efficient at producing a backup now. It's a tradeoff of producing many copies quickly or few copies that last for a long time (i.e., a chunk of rock).

    Seems that the more copies you have, the easier it is to retain them through history... proliferation as opposed to preservation.

    In other words: offsite

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:55PM (#27365013) Homepage

    Seriously what a piece of complete and utter rubbish. From Ancient Egypt we have an extremely limited set of information because stone tablets crack and they aren't exactly the most portable things in the world. Go through to the Romans and paper, and the Chinese and you are seeing massively more information become available down the centuries. Zoom forwards into the 14th Century and we have a massively detailed view of what life was like which becomes more and more detailed as time goes by. The key here is detail, the amount of information in Ancient Egypt was huge, probably comparable to today, but the amount that was etched onto pyramids was tiny and quite a lot of that didn't survive anyway.

    The key things that future historians need are prime sources and one thing that the internet is massively impressive at is the duplication of information and the avoidance of redundancy. Stone is rubbish for this, no-one bothers making copies so you lose the original and you lose everything.

    Printing introduced simpler copies which meant that the information was more likely to survive down the years. With modern digital technology this increases still further. It is ridiculous to claim that digitally we won't have more information about the major events and people of today which is available in 400 years. We will have more CRAP available in 400 years (blogs, twitter, Slashdot) than any generation of historians have had to wade through.

    Digital technology makes accurate duplication simple and that is the most powerful way to make sure information survives. Wikileaks is the embodiment of that view. The issue is that there is now SO MUCH CRAP that the issue for future historians will be in wading through all of the blog posts of "Obama is a Muslim" to find out that in fact he wasn't.

    A rubbish supposition which is massively undermined by every time there is a censorship case the plea to "mirror the information".

    Some information will be lost but the amount that will survive is miles higher than the amount of information that survived from Ancient Egypt. For instance its amazing to Bible Literalists that NOT ONCE in their SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF RECORDED HISTORY did the ancient Egyptians ever mention all getting drowned in a global flood... and you'd have thought they'd have noticed that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's amazing to Bible Literalists?

      I think the prevailing view among Bible literalists is that the Egyptian histories don't make a whole lot of mentions of [other] embarrassing "war" losses. "2 million Hebrew slaves walked out of Egypt, across the Red Sea. We followed them after we changed our mind about letting them go. We drove our chariots through the Red Sea pathway and it closed on us, killing us all."

      Ancient civilizations didn't seem to particularly like those parts of their history that they though

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Idiomatick (976696)
        Lol I like this stunning bit of logic. 'no egyptians went on the ark' suggesting that ALL egyptians died. Awesome! That means the Egyptians of today are either fake or zombies. I vote for option 2.
        • Yes, obviously I was trying to say that there are no live Egyptians in the world.

          Or maybe I'm saying that (1) Bible literalists aren't as stupid to think that Egyptian history would necessarily record a global flood and (2) Egyptian civilization would live through a global flood. Maybe Bible literalists don't date the flood right in the middle of Egyptian civilization (which, according to wikipedia, "The civilization began around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the fir

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by camperdave (969942)
            Sigh... The global flood of Noah and the Ark would have pre-dated Egyptian history altogether. After the flood, some of Noah's descendants wandered to the Nile delta and founded the land of Egypt. It wouldn't have been until thousands of years later that they enslaved the Israelites and chased them through the Red Sea. The Flood and the drowning of the Egyptian army are two separate events.
            • I realize that. Neither one is recorded in Egyptian history, hence me referencing the second also-embarrassing event. I believe it is Ham that is presumably responsible for Egypt? I forget, though.
        • Moses story takes place after the Noah story. It's really not a 'stunning bit of logic'.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Hognoxious (631665)
          Did any fish go on the Ark? Perhaps Egyptians are fish. Or made of wood.
    • by Komi (89040)
      Kind of a twist on "I've forgotten more than you'll ever know."
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      And yet if you look at other cultures you will discover that there is a prevalence of a "flood myth" that would tend to indicate that a very large catestrophe happened a long time ago. When? Nobody really knows, but it is nearly a dead certanity that there was a big disaster that wiped out a lot of the planet a long time ago.

      Of course, the dates proposed by people trying to take it from the Bible are nonsense. But that is nearly irrelevent. The point is there was almost certainly soemthing that was inte

    • The ancient Egyptians had very detailed records of the great flood, carved into stone. Unfortunately they sank.

    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday March 27, 2009 @08:10PM (#27365923) Homepage Journal

      Information that doesn't make it onto the Internet is still at risk. Historically important audio recordings from the 60s and 70s are badly decayed ("For those unfamiliar with the Nixon tapes, other than telephone conversations, they are extremely difficult to hear (in analog versions, and with the available equipment, it would take approximately 15 hours to transcribe one hour of Nixon's conversations)" [hnn.us], and tapes of Creighton Abrams running the Vietnam War were barely playable).

      Information that does make it into electronic form is still at risk. The Usenet archives from Dejanews.com almost got thrown away. The "deep web" is inaccessible to the Wayback Machine.

      If you wanted something to last a thousand years, would you post it to Usenet (zillions of copies, all gone in fifty years when the backup tapes rot) or would you etch it onto an iridium tablet?

    • by westlake (615356)
      NOT ONCE in their SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF RECORDED HISTORY did the ancient Egyptians ever mention all getting drowned in a global flood...

      The flood myth can take many forms.

      But there are strange echoes of the Biblical tale even here.

      The Egyptian flood myth begins with the sun god Ra, who feared that people were going to overthrow him. He sent the goddess Hathor, who was his eye, to punish the people. But she killed so many that their blood, flowing into the Nile River and the ocean, caused a flood. Hatho

  • They did? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If it wasn't for the lucky find and preservation of the Rosetta stone, how long would it have taken us to decipher Egyptian hierogylphics? Not exactly an open standard...

  • Vital records? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edcheevy (1160545) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:00PM (#27365075)
    I know nothing about the field of data preservation, but is there a Darwinian pruning of data that occurs? Do we really need to keep copies of ALL of our data for thousands of years, or do the truly "vital" emails/books/stone tablets have a much greater lifespan because they have actual value?
  • by marco.antonio.costa (937534) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:01PM (#27365083)

    Yea, rocks don't need backups, but very few people could read them, and even less could 'etch' them.

    I think the unprecedented decentralization and free flow of information of our time is far superior, even if the media we use is much less durable.

    On the issue of formats he makes a very valid point tho. All we can do is support open formats and hope others follow our example so they gain momentum and become widespread and long lived.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:03PM (#27365117)

    This is another case of only seeing part of the problem. Data preservation is easy. The problem is, we generate massive amounts of data. Data doesn't have an expiration date. It doesn't automatically categorize itself, know its own relevance, or volunteer itself for tasks. See, the vast majority of "data" floating around can be safely discarded. Do you really need an ethernet sniff log of everything you've done on the internet over the past ten years? The government might want a copy, but chances are pretty good its just as useless to them as you. How about those four (broken) copies of that mp3 you downloaded from Shareaza? Or outdated installers of software? Is there a reason to keep around those Netware 3.12 floppies (besides impressing other old farts)?

    The problem isn't preserving data, it's knowing when to let it go. We have many, many, many methods of data preservation. We are drowning in information. The internet is generating petabytes worth of data every day, and only the smallest fraction of that really has any reuse value. And most of that, in six months, or a few years, probably not. What we need is better methods of sorting data, and ways to expire data safely.

    Also, we also need control over our data. Corporations have been trying to take that away now for years. You don't need a copy of our software that can run on any computer, we're going to mung it up so it only runs on one computer, and if you have to reinstall the operating system or change the video card or anything else, that copy will cease to work. An irony, really -- because I know plenty of people that love playing old video games whose manufacturers long ago gave up on, but won't release the copyright for. Fifty years from now, I doubt a single copy of the game will still exist -- the concept, maybe. But it will have died and yet someone will still own the copyright and think money could be made off it. When we buy a chunk of data, we need to be able to control it, not just use it in some narrowly-defined way. Because otherwise, what's the point of data preservation in the first place? To stockpile more useless data that -- even worse, holding onto could be a liability to you?

    • I agreed with you up until

      We are drowning in information.

      I'd beg to differ, I think we don't have enough, we've only touched the surface, and we don't share enough. That's two great things about computing:
      1. Everything is information.
      2. The internet is designed for copying.

      I mean, think about it. Ever since a repeater was invented, we've been copying information.

      On a related topic, I enjoyed Tim Berners' talk on what he's calling "Linked Data" [ted.com], even if I don't agree with his method.

      • Good point. I'm not sure if it was mentioned somewhere else probably was. I'm to lazy to RTFA tonight. But you could also say something about the ease of copying information has steadily gone up. If you can copy it easily then it doesn't mater how long the medium it's on lasts, because like you said all we do is copy it.

  • by Rufty (37223) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:05PM (#27365131) Homepage
    I'd show you some examples, but they kinda fell to pieces sometime around 200BC. What we have left is the stuff that preserves well.
    • What we have left is the stuff that preserves well.

      Totally agree. Those supermarket plastic bags with a half-life of 50,000 years bare important messages for distant generations. And you know they're going to misinterpret the purpose of our junk and come up with weird theories to explain why we were so polite.

      • by djp928 (516044)

        Since when does plastic have a half-life?

        • Everything has a half life. It is merely the time it takes for half of a given sample of items to decay, or be destroyed. Granted, the term is mainly used when talking about radioactive isotopes, however it can be used in other realms.
  • The finer the print, the more susceptible to wear, I would expect.
  • DRM (Score:2, Funny)

    by russlar (1122455)
    You can't put DRM on a rock.
    • by XanC (644172)

      I'm pretty sure you could carve encrypted data into a rock, just like you can on a Blu-ray.

      And yes, it's just as silly.

    • But you can use it to hurt people that want to steal the rock.

    • A rock works exactly the same as any DRMed media in 4000years from now.... 50years from now as well...
  • Stupid article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:07PM (#27365173) Homepage

    The entire piece consists of:

    1. Saw an Egyptian obelisk which had lasted for a long time.
    2. Our modern data preservation methods aren't built for longevity.
    3. Rocks have better data integrity than digital archives.

    Thanks for the heads up. I'll be sure to keep that in mind when I'm deciding whether to save my memoirs on rock or .doc. Really helpful stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Eberlin (570874)
      Well, Stallman and I would tell you that given those two options, rock may be a better format. Hmmm, make that GNU/rock.
    • So it can be summed up as:

      Even after all these years I could still read "My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings", but I looked at Big Blue, and a Wang, and I despaired.

  • by bugi (8479)

    Sorry, papyrus just doesn't scale that well.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:09PM (#27365185)

    on our hard drives. Porn. That will keep them scratching their heads for years.

    "This primitive race seemed to be preoccupied with sex. So how did they fail to reproduce and let their race die out?"

    Way back in the ancient times, only important stuff was carved into stone. Now everyone on our planet is squirreling away all kinds of useless crap on digital media.

    Future alien archeologists will have a hell of a job sorting out the crap from the, well, stuff that is just a little less than crap.

    • by db32 (862117)
      I don't think that is the case at all. Take a large enough sampling of all of this data and we will be able to see how "important" it was to people. I would imagine that the very large assortment of "useless crap" would ultimately be able to build a much more detailed frame of reference for the less useless crap. Assuming that these future archeologists have a way to read and decode all of our data they probably also have a relatively efficient way of dredging through all of it and quickly categorizing i
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AJWM (19027)

      Oh, past cultures had their share of porn too. If you ever get to Lima, Peru, check out the Museum of Erotic Ceramics (or whatever it's proper name is). The Inca and pre-Inca made some, ah, interesting stuff. They weren't the only ones of course - I haven't seen them myself but there are wall paintings, etc, in Pompeii that generally don't get included in the usual textbooks.

      Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if the ancient "Venus" figurines that archaeologists call fertility goddesses were really porn.

  • After all, all that 'data' that was so useless for hundreds and hundreds of years was because we didn't have the ability to decode it.

    Hmm. Perhaps we need to have a 'new rosetta stone' project that all programs and decoders have to submit to (for hardware and software.)
  • Look at the opposite trend that went from stone to paper to electronic:

    1) Data became more portable
    2) Data became more easy to edit and change
    3) You can store more data in the same size container
    4) You can store more types of data, like sounds and moving pictures!
    5) You can store more than data, you can store programs which do things that can create and transform their own data!

    What can a 50 lb stone slab do?

    Also, what is the quality of the content? How much quality information does it tell us? There's so

  • Digital information can be easily duplicated and transferred to other media. You can save the entire library of congress on hard disk, convert it to DVD, or print it out on paper. And all of it can be almost fully automated with near zero chance of error. Try doing a backup of your stone tablet library in a reasonable amount of time, labor, and accuracy. There is just no comparison.
  • nuclear war clearly states all this. The people that preceded the Egyptians got in a war with the middle east and they nuked each other - hense the deserts

    Since all their technology was gone and they couldn't even make a pencil because they had grown so dependant on technology they had to go back to writing on rocks. And so will we!!!

    Being creative is fun.
  • So what if it doesn't last as long. The vast majority isn't worth remembering anyway.

    But seriously, lets say your historical rock recording is damaged - well it's not likely that there was a backup. But what about my photography collection? Oh, that's right, I have seven copies in four different locations, one of which is over 2000 miles from the others. And if I want another copy, safely tucked away on the other side of the world, it takes about a day to get it there. Let's see you do that with your rock c

  • by Zakabog (603757) <[moc.guamj] [ta] [nhoj]> on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:34PM (#27365463)

    I really thought there was going to be something special here, that the ancient Egyptians found some way to preserve data better we do now in modern society.

    Does the author not realize that he's only looking at a rock that survived, and not one of the millions of rocks that turned to dust over the years?

    If someone in 5,000 years finds a USB flash drive exhibit in some park with the data still readable off the device, that will not be proof that USB flash storage is the ultimate in storage technology, it'll only prove that that one USB flash drive lasted for 5,000 years.

  • There are a number of problems, some of which are obvious like longevity of media. A bigger problem is the hardware to access the media. And even bigger, is the format of the data.

    OK, under proper conditions a properly made CD or DVD will last nearly forever. But it requires some really fancy optics and a solid state laser diode to read it. And a DVD requires a microprocessor - can't get away with some simple logic chips like you can with a CD. And the encoding of the data itself is complicated - proba

    • Today in Europe would a set of construction plans from 1920 make any sense at all?

      The metric system was introduced in the 18th century.

      And in 100 years the likelyhood that either ASCII or Unicode will survive is very remote.

      I think, 100 years from now some people will still remember the order of the alphabet, and some will even know what binary digits are. Put those two things together - you got ASCII. Add some more offsets - you got Unicode.

      Alan Turing cracked Enigma 70 years ago. I'm pretty confident someone will crack ASCII or Unicode in 100 years - if it will be abandoned.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Don't be ridiculous.

      OK, under proper conditions a properly made CD or DVD will last nearly forever.

      Wrong. CD-Rs and DVD-Rs have been proven to have very short lifespans, since they are merely dye altered with a low-power laser. Pressed CDs and DVDs, OTOH, have much longer lifespans (probably indefinite if stored properly, and if manufactured right so they don't get "DVD rot" or "CD rot" as some have. But while most movies are made on pressed DVDs, how much data is stored on them? Not much, only propriet

  • FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChienAndalu (1293930) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:40PM (#27365559)

    The whole article is ridiculous. The first sentence is

    My wife and I were in New York's Central Park last fall when we saw a nearly 4,000-year-old Egyptian obelisk that has been remarkably well preserved, with hieroglyphs that were clearly legible

    What is remarkable about that? If you want to put a ancient Egypt rock in the Central Park, do you use a shattered obelisk where you can't read anything or do you take the nice one?

    And how ignorant is the author to ignore all the broken, lost and otherwise destroyed rocks that didn't survive?

    If you want to write an article about the lack of metadata standards and your perceived lack of long-term storage options, fine, but don't built it around your wifes spontaneous epiphanies.

  • This is why I've been chiseling reddit headlines into the concrete in my driveway. And the neighbors call me crazy!!!

  • How many rocks do I need to chisel to keep a copy of the current Wikipedia? Are there even enough mountains in Egypt for the top 10,000 articles?

    I think we'll manage to keep enough of the important data by migrating to newer media over time. Besides, it's not like we have any better options.

  • Is a 4GB Bigfoot (5-1/4") Hard Disk the same as a stone obelisk?

    Or should i mod my CD writer to write on stone? May need a little bigger PSU for that but upgrades are fun.....

    Seriously tho, the older the better for long-term storage. Can apply this large scale or small...stone tablets or old disks.

  • by owlnation (858981) on Friday March 27, 2009 @08:18PM (#27365999)
    Can anyone tell me what the conversion factor is from Libraries of Congress to Libraries of Alexandria?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Petrushka (815171)

      Can anyone tell me what the conversion factor is from Libraries of Congress to Libraries of Alexandria?

      Yes.

      Let the Iliad represent a typical ancient Greek text, occupying 24 scrolls. In a modern edition it occupies 1,589,248 bytes in Beta Code (= ASCII transliteration of ancient Greek), or 66,219 bytes per "book" (scroll).

      Ptolemy II set a goal of half a million scrolls for the library. This is probably a pretty conservative estimate of the library's size at its height. However, let us work with conservative estimates. This gives us a ballpark figure of 33.1 billion bytes, or 30.8 gigabytes, for the Library o

  • We should take cue from battlestar and pass on the good parts of ourselves but leave out all the bad stuff. We should be able to fit that on a rock.
  • Do you realize how many frames I'll have to carve in stone for just one DVD, much less my whole collection? After that, there are thousands of pics!!!

    Can you say: "Holy Bleeding Blisters, Batman!"

    Time to move near a stone quarry [blogspot.com]. I guess...offsite backups go to the moon, Alice...to the moon!

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