Re: All of Human Knowledge Buried in a Salt Mine

[Note: This comment comes from friend David Rosenthal. DLH]

All of Human Knowledge Buried in a Salt Mine
Fearful of digital decay, a ceramicist wants to return data storage to a more lasting medium: clay.
Jan 9 2017

As someone who has spent most of the last two decades working on
digital preservation I can state that this, and the whole idea of
quasi-immortal media as a solution to the preservation problem, is
nonsense. It is a massive bet against technological progress, among
many other issues. For details, see:

An extract from one of them:

Every few months there is another press release announcing that some new, quasi-immortal medium such as 5D quartz or stone DVDs has solved the problem of long-term storage. But the problem stays resolutely unsolved. Why is this? Very long-lived media are inherently more expensive, and are a niche market, so they lack economies of scale. Seagate could easily make disks with archival life, but a study of the market for them revealed that no-one would pay the relatively small additional cost. The drives currently marketed for “archival” use have a shorter warranty and a shorter MTBF than enterprise drives, so they’re not expected to have long service lives.

The fundamental problem is that long-lived media only make sense at very low Kryder rates. Even if the rate is only 10%/yr, after 10 years you could store the same data in 1/3 the space. Since space in the data center racks or even at Iron Mountain isn’t free, this is a powerful incentive to move old media out. If you believe that Kryder rates will get back to 30%/yr, after a decade you could store 30 times as much data in the same space.



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