[amsat-bb] Eimac Moonbounce - I8CVS

Phil Karn karn at ka9q.net
Mon Oct 12 06:50:20 UTC 2015

On 10/11/15 08:30, Thomas Doyle wrote:
> Phil,
> Thanks for the post. Since I8CVS passed I had wanted to bring up a
> subject but was a bit hesitant. I8CVS had a mountain of information. He
> helped me with many things. It may seem a bit selfish but I regret that
> not only is he a SK but all that information is lost. It probably became
> a victim of the same 'paper eradication campaign' you described that
> will destroy your docs.

I hear you. And I'm more than willing to let other people "mirror" the
stuff that I scan. I'm only concerned about possible copyright issues,
but if AMSAT (or whoever) doesn't care, then I'm all for it.

I occasionally hear thoughtful comments (e.g., from Vint Cerf, one of
the "fathers" of TCP/IP) that we may be setting ourselves up for a
digital dark ages in which our distant descendants can't figure out how
we lived or what we created because they can't read our digital formats.
I think that may be a *bit* too pessimistic, but it's certainly
something to think about. (Ever see "Forbidden Planet"?)

Years ago I came to the conclusion that the best way to preserve digital
information is to "keep it spinning", i.e., to run a server with
everything online, ideally in RAID arrays, and to use it regularly so
you can catch and fix problems before they become unfixable. As
technology improves and/or your old equipment wears out, you copy
everything over. This is much more effective than keeping stuff offline
on media that may silently become unreadable either through degradation
or simple obsolescence.

This was fairly easy as hard drives rapidly got more capacious (I won't
say "bigger) and cheaper, but as you've probably noticed improvements
seem to have slowed down over the past few years. The most recent
improvements in storage density seem to be increasingly hard fought,
e.g., with helium-atmosphere drives and "shingled" recording. But at
least communications keeps improving, and it's not at all unreasonable
for individuals to mirror large archives to each other over the Internet.

Perhaps we should make it a project to collect and digitally archive as
much AMSAT and AMSAT-related information as we can and replicate it as
widely as possible for safekeeping. This may require a bit of rethinking
on the part of AMSAT's leadership, specifically whether it's more
important to make whatever it currently makes selling books and such or
to preserve all this information for posterity, because I see a bit of
tension between these two goals. Personally I think AMSAT would be
better off in the long run if it simply distributed all its publications
online in non-DRM digital formats and relied on wider exposure and the
honor system and donations for its income. At the very least, they'd
save a lot of money printing and mailing paper journals and proceedings.
And I wouldn't have to cut them up and scan them to keep this place from
filling up.


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