15 October 2011

Dick Eastman on Sharing Information

Here is another report on the OGS Fall Seminar featuring Dick Eastman (my first blog posting about Eastman's presentations was dated 04 Oct  2011 and covered his talk on the Organized Genealogist). The following is on his presentation on sharing information.

In this presentation, Dick Eastman had two primary areas of focus: 1. Making sure that your data is still readable by future generations. 2. How to share as little or as much information as you wish.
Genealogists have favored printed books and microfilm as long-term storage mediums. How long a book lasts depends first of all on the paper it is printed on. Long-term, paper is not very good medium. It must be acid-free to last. Eastman noted that papers from 1975 don't look as good as papers from 1875.
The ink used to make a book also determines its life. Real ink is pretty good for preserving information. It absorbs into the paper and becomes part of the paper. Ink jet printers are not really using ink, but a water-based material that evaporates over time. Archival-quality ink jet printers are available but the printers and inks are more expensive.
Other printers use toner, which looks great but really isn’t ink. Toner consists of tiny particles of plastic deposited on the paper’s surface. It tends to flake off over time.
Life expectancy of microfilm is 200 to 300 years if stored properly and you never use it. Microfilm scratches easily with use. Long-term use requires using of master negatives that are only used to make copies. FamilySearch is aiming to digitize all its microfilm within 10 years.
Google aims to digitize the world's 135 million books by 2020. One advantage of digitized books is that they can be indexed by computer systems.
Eastman recommends that you create digital files. Make multiple copies (backups) and store them in multiple places. He points out, however, that every technology is temporary and lasts about 15 years. Plan to copy materials using new technologies when necessary.
Online backup is the cheapest form of backup. It can be free of charge up to a point, and then only about $50/year for up to 50 GB. Online backup is now cheaper than purchasing a hard drive, and the backup is stored offsite. Making effective use of online backup requires a broadband connection to the Internet.
Cloud computing is the sharing of resources across the Internet. It includes sharing of disc space, and sharing of applications on different computers. Well-known examples of shared applications involve Google docs, Picasa, and gmail.
Options: Keep all of your information private, but protected, and backed up in state-of-the-art data centers. Share bits and pieces of your information but only with people you choose. Share with groups of people, but only with passwords. Make information available with everyone.
The best backup services have multiple data centers and send data to other centers.
With cloud computing, you can easily find matching information supplied by others. 

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