Reply-To: <>
From: "John Van Bogart" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>, "'DuBois, Peg'" <>, "'Sprick, Dan'" <>, "'Cochrane, Katherine'" <>, "'Murray, Bill'" <>, "'Gibson, Gerry'" <>
Subject: "From Digits to Dust" a Disappointment
Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 12:50:11 -0500X-
Priority: 3 (Normal)
Importance: Normal

May 1, 1998
When you took the time to contact me regarding the stability of data recording media, I truly thought that you were interested in doing an objective report on digital data storage. I provided you withup-to-the-date answers to several questions in line with this goal. I did not give you permission to use the National Media Lab "LifeExpectancy" chart, because NML considers this information outdated.

During our interview, for example, I mentioned that more recenttesting of CD-ROM media indicates longevities of 100 years and longer. Unfortunately, you used this old chart, and failed toupdate it with the more current information. I stated that there is little chance of information loss usingdigital media as long as one follows proper storage and handling procedures. I also explained that transcription is an essential and inevitable part of digital information preservation.

Contrary to what is stated in you article, digital files can be migrated from older to newer media with only a tiny risk of information loss. With read-after-write verification, digital files can be transcribed with absolutely NO loss of information. As when people moved from horsedrawn transportation to "horseless carriages," they had to get used to a novel technology. Though originally scoffed at, few people today would argue against the superiority of the automobile for transportation.

You could have written an excellent, balanced article on digitaldata storage. Instead you chose to "parrot" the imprecise,pessimistic viewpoint expressed in earlier U.S. News & World Reportand L.A. Times articles. "From Digits to Dust" does more to shock and confuse readers, than provide them with useful information.

Dr. John Van Bogart
Data Preservation Scientist
National Media Laboratory
Building 235-1N-17, 3M Center
St. Paul, MN 55144-1000
(612) 733-1918

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