Thursday, July 31, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age--Replication

Replication is keeping your information in several different formats so that later, when you want to use it, the future technology is still able to access it.

Paper is really still best for making information last in this respect. Generally the different formats last:
  • Paper, fragile but will usually last @100 years
  • Microfilm @130 years
  • CD @20 years depending on quality. Like I said earlier, look for Mitsui Gold or Delkin e-Film Archival Gold
  • Audio Video @10-20 years
  • Floppy disks @3 years

Once you have digitized, if you do decide to put it back into prints, you have to be careful. If you print with the wrong ink and paper, your new copy may go bad faster than the original. Look for Pigment ink, DuraBrite inks, Ultrachrome inks and papers, Crystal Archive paper. Again, you get what you pay for. Cheap paper is usually not archival. Look for manufacturers that match paper and ink sets. At Generation Maps we have found canvas giclees to be a good base for printing for several reasons. First of all, the texture of the canvas is good for family history photos because the slightly bumpy surface tricks the eye and mitigates any graininess in an antique photo. But also, giclees are completely archival. You can actually even run them through the washing machine. So you can put the original away and still keep the image out where you can enjoy it.

When scanning images in, stay with the most common types of files so that they will be accessible later. Tiff files are biggest and contain the most information for the highest quality.—Jpeg (Jpg) files are smaller and do well inserting into documents or sending over the web. When you save to the most common file format, you have a better chance of being able to open the file in whatever kind of program you have. Less common files such as .png, .psp, and etc. may or may not be supported by future programs. Save each edit of the picture as a new file. Keep the original scan. And, save one of each type for different uses.

So many people think they are doing a great work scanning their photos, yet you can also make mistakes in the way you keep them. Do lots of backup like we talked about earlier.
  • Burn to high quality CDR or DVD-R
  • Keep on back up drive
  • Always keep more than one copy, more than one type of file, save at different scanning resolutions, and in different file formats.
  • Share, Share, Share
  • And of course keep originals

With text formats, you want it to be in a format that you are able to open later as well. .txt is a good common type of file that you can open in many different situations. But it doesn't have all the capabilities of other text programs and will strip out any special formatting or other information you have stored in the file. So be sure to save anything important in a couple of different file formats. Most text files—even from the same text program—are usually not usable more than a couple of versions back. I recently tried to help a neighbor send a file to her cousin. She hadn't updated her computer for a while, so her Word Perfect 2.0 wasn't going to jive with anything that her cousin had. Her data would have been useless if we hadn't been able to save it as a .txt file so that he could transfer it into the program he was using.

SAVING YOUR FILES IN SEVERAL FORMATS WILL HELP ENSURE THAT THERE IS A FILE THAT WILL BE USABLE IN THE FUTURE.

Previous Posts in this series:

Will your work survive the digital age--the Digital Dark Age.

Will your work survive the digital age?

Will your work survive the digital age--Dissemination

Will your work survive the digital age--Refreshing and Backup

1 comment:

Jane said...

Agree with the advice. Personally, I am optimistic that we will be able to convert file formats in the future. Whenever I have had to convert some out of date file format like super 8 or 16 mm film I have found someone who has the conversion equipment. I expect the same will apply in the future.