images.jpegFrom a Science Daily Article

An old-school alternative to digital storage has a modern spin that could save us from future information loss as technology changes and today’s state of the art devices become tomorrow’s museum pieces.

Digital objects — documents, images, databases — require specific software to open and read them, which in turn requires specific operating systems, device drivers, and hardware to run them depending on the format in which they’re stored, whether magnetic, optical or some other system. The pace of change in the world of technology is so rapid that applications as well as media technology have only short life spans and archived data has to be migrated at frequent intervals on to new data carriers and into new file formats to maintain its integrity.

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[A] team has carried out a feasibility study that analysed encoding techniques to allow digital data to be saved on to microfilm and then to test data recovery as well as cost issues. Aside from precluding the need for frequent technology updates, storage of documents and data on microfilm will give future generations access to the information by scanning the microfilm into whatever system they are currently using and applying optical character recognition to re-digitize and subsequently decode the data.

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The team further suggests that in order to reduce the amount of microfilm used for any given repository and so cut conversion and re-digitization times it would be possible to convert a stream of text into a bar-code type system that would still be entirely analogue but would rely on knowledge of the conversion key to return the data to digital form from microfilm. Using such a system could render a tested 170 kilobyte file that requires 191 pages of microfilm space as just 12 or so “printed as a two-dimensional barcode.

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Via Resource Shelf

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