books & film: on digital preservation

An excellent, in depth article on the challenges of preserving digital film, applicable to my ongoing cogitating on the encroachment of digital books.  Not identical situations, but it explores the divide between the physical and the ephemeral which does apply and has intrigued me for a while now.

A stable physical print of a movie is good for 100 years, they say.
A physical book will last forever, absent some physical catastrophe- ditto a vinyl LP.
Some of my older CDs have already corrupted into unplayability.
To paraphrase one of the SF authors I follow on twitter "in five years the Kindle will look like a floppy disc."

What's likely to happen is a tiered system where mass consumption items exist digitally and ephemerally- the fluffy, disposable junk people like Danielle Steel & Nora Roberts write.  Books nobody keeps or cares about, the kind of things that end up clogging the tables at swap meets and garage sales and is perpetually ensconced on the shelves of thrift stores.  Physical incarnations will be reserved for things people feel passionately about.

Cinematically, I'd expect Citizen Kane to survive a theoretical future digital Armageddon.  Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, not so much.

Anyway, an interesting, thought provoking article.

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