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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  December 2017

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Subject:

Re: Thought on time, temporality and new media public artwork

From:

"Goebel, Johannes" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Goebel, Johannes

Date:

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 15:33:14 +0000

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Absolutely agreed. Also in regard to paper as Diego quoted Andres. There is a good reason why banks printed out their most important data on papar and pout it in an Iron Mountain… (I don’t know if they still do so).



The main cost is not equipment, but people which includes continuity of funding. And once there is an institution that could provide that continuity the eternal struggle of what should be kept and what not will continue to take its course. History is indeed a continuous in-the-making, reinterpreting, rewriting and depends on social and political power structure. Nothing has changed or will change.



Just to reiterate: there are two categories of data - “static” (documents), which in the realm of computer technology need to be brought back to the resolution and bandwidth of our senses; and “temporal-dynamic” in the sense of needing “execution” (probably in the double meaning of the word). I think these two areas should be seen as very separate in their demands. I am currently only concentrating on documents (certainly including video and audio and images), which are in formats which are spread across the globe on the level of consumer products (which gives a wide basis of distribution) and of commercial and military use (which may support keeping formats decipherable/portable). For this document use I see about 5-8 formats as sufficient, also if the basic ASCII encoding is used to document file formats, headers etc. in “plain English” and “ASCII-art-like” charts - and to e.g. Print this information out on paper ...



The main argument for optical discs is indeed that the storage conditions are not as critical as with tape media and that they are “cold storage” as they do not need electricity and can “just sit there” for a longer time which reduces the financial needs.



As you may know, Facebook has built very large facilities to dump all their images to blu-rays, which can be accessed with robots (technology from the nineties) - this saves them incredible amounts of electricity as hard discs do not need to be kept spinning to access data. The latency to access an image from such storage is “next to nothing” in terms of human life and patience.



The current issue with optical discs is that SONY and other companies are developing their own proprietary archival formats and hardware environment to push as much a 1 TB onto a disc. This creates a dependency on the proprietary technology. I personally think it is more feasible to stick to commodity formats and technology for small archives as we are talking about in the art world and in the core humanities.



Even if we would use only 4GB of DVDs if they turn out to be the most reliable optical storage medium (and not blu-ray discs), and M-discs were the only ones that do not need any tight temperature and humidity control at all - and one would not store them in juke-boxes or robotic systems - and we would use the bulkiest “standard” jewel cases, we could store on a 110 cm shelf space (15 cm deep) 100x4GB = 4TB.



A frame of reference:



An image 100,000 pixels by 100,000 pixels might be around 300MB.

And the digital versions/editions collected on the Encyclopedia Brittanica 2015 Ultimate Edition, which fit on one single DVD holds



  *   86,900+ Encyclopædia Britannica articles

  *   18,900+ Britannica Student Encyclopedia

  *   3,800+ Britannica Elementary Encyclopedia

  *   14,800+ Britannica Book of the Year (1994-2013)

  *   17,500+ photos, illustrations, tables, and special comps



And if you have videos - yes indeed, blu-rays would be best. But let’s assume for a moment that blu-rays need tighter storage conditions and are more susceptible to bit rot because of the potential oxidizing of the reflective layer (already taking into account that blu-rays do not have an organic dye layer in which the bits are inscribed) and that I would want to go with m-disc DVDs:



No real problem either on the technical level: UNIX as well as the DVD-writing software as well as the player OS have an integrated “split and concatenate” procedure. This is “only" a bookkeeping issue (printing all that information on paper, including header information and protocol structure). Otherwise there is an exact split of the data between discs - which can be readily put back together - if there is electricity, computers and lasers … And if you loose the first disc, which contains the header information for the file, well, then you can reconstruct it “manually" for the following discs.



Regarding video format to use,  it would be the same approach as with other document formats: Use a format that industry is depending on to protect their “content” and which at the same time has soaked the consumer world.





There is no question about the difference between paper and optical discs: You do not need technology to read a book, but you need computer technology to read optical discs. No electricity, no computer technology, no lasers, no retrieval from discs.  (Books will survive such situation.)  So under the condition that there is electricity and that there will be the use of on/off encoding of information in electronic realms, one can be quite sure that lasers will be around that if anyone wanted to build a disc-reader from scratch, one could (then again depending on the financial and political interest to do so - but considering the millions of players that are littering the dumps across this planet, there will be a someone who can patch it together like a greek vase (maybe). The parallel would be the analog inscribed audio records (from dust patterns to wax cylinders, tin or vinyl, which can now be read with laser players, basically a few generations removed from the original technology.



The approach described above is meant for an ”as permanent as possible back-up system for standard documents, which needs little attention and costs only the shelf space” and has the highest chance of having retrievable information - it is not a replacement for an online system, unless one goes with disc robots (which could access any file within seconds instead of milliseconds…)



If you have any comments, questions, recommendations, please write to my email [log in to unmask] since this forum might not be the right place to talk about paint and canvas, uhhh I meant bits and electrons.



And finally, if you believe in printing bits onto “real stuff”, go to http://www.piql.com   -  they put your photographic images (as “real”images) or digital data on the next best known storage medium (after rock, wood and paper) - namely “real film” . "Physically present – future preserved - A Secure and Future-Proof Way of Preserving Valuable Digital Data - with no migration needed”.



Johannes









From: "Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org" <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> on behalf of David Rokeby <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>

Reply-To: David Rokeby <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>

Date: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 9:05 AM

To: "[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>" <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>

Subject: Re: Thought on time, temporality and new media public artwork



I agree with Diego that simply trusting a durable medium is insufficient. I used to fantasize about distant future anthropologists coming upon archives of optical disks and wondering about the bizarre fetishism of a culture that seems obsessed with this particular apparently unadorned circular form…



The point with m-discs and the like is that more trustworthy media allows one to regularize the practise of regeneration of the data. With hard-drives and current standard optical discs, we need to keep a random assortment of storage methods that will fail at somewhat random intervals. This means that to really maintain an archive requires great vigilance and a refresh rate with a relatively high frequency. The life-span of a reading technology as an available consumer good is much longer in most cases than the median case survival period for a single disk. Extending the expected lifetime of a storage medium means that one can focus more on refreshing the data across technology transitions rather than constantly refreshing the data to avoid unpredictable media failure.



David





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