Rescued documentation issues

Rich Alderson RichA at
Tue Oct 27 15:50:09 CDT 2009

> From: Dan Gahlinger
> Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 6:54 AM

>> Date: Mon, 26 Oct 2009 20:33:32 -0700
>> From: healyzh at

>> At 4:34 PM -0700 10/26/09, Rich Alderson wrote:

>>> Never discard the paper just because you have converted the information
>>> content to an electronic or chemical form.  If you don't have room for
>>> it, pass it on to the next individual who also cares about these things.
>> This is advice to live by, and I do just that.  That is why I am 
>> involved with the CBHRC.  Our society is moving away from storing 
>> knowledge in easy to preserve (and freely share) forms.  I fear that 
>> future generations will realize what a mistake this is.

> HOW is this a mistake?

When information is only stored electronically, those who cannot afford
electronics are disenfranchised with respect to that information.

When information is only stored electronically, the free flow of that
information is far more easily disrupted, both by intent (consider the
actions of commercial networks in the U. S., or of hostile governments)
and by accident (the point raised in the Rosetta Stone paper I referenced

> The whole point is to make it "easy to preserve" and "freely share".
> Everything that goes against that just suppresses knowledge and information.

Absolutely.  Agree completely.

I simply believe that the new technologies currently in use have been
convincingly shown not to scale as well as the older one they are attempting
to replace.

Yes, there are people working to improve same, as Ian points out, but they
are nowhere near the end of the task they have taken on, and things have to
be preserved until then.

> The best way to preserve something is to:
> 1. make it as easy to get a hold of as possible
> 2. make it available in an easy to replicate format
> 3. ensure as many people as possible can get a copy if they need/want one

All true.  Now, what's your issue with paper?

> In the end, having it in a universally available format (PDF for example)
> and available on the web would be best.

Until everyone can have access to the PDF, it is no better than a piece of
paper, and it is at least as fragile.

> Can someone explain why "hording" documentation and keeping it private on
> a "degradable" media like paper is a better idea?

Please point out to us where anyone advocated the hoarding of documentation.

Please point out how paper (which can last for 2000 years) is more degradable
than a CDROM that uses a dye technology with an expected shelf life of less
than 30.  Or than disk drives which are subject to mechanical as well as
electronic failures in a far shorter time span.

Please explain what the use of silly scare quotes does for your question.


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