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Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by Jon Hanson, Oct 23, 2006.
combining all the various sites on watches and clocks on to one single directory?
I remember this topic from a few years ago. There was a lot of enthusiasm at the time, but I don't think much came of it. It would take a lot of work, and the job would never end.
if there were more computer volunteers, things like what founder Sam Kirk is attempting, together we could make it happen!
What would be desireable is not merely producing a directory but producing a permanent "mirror" site.
When I or Fortunat die (in the not too distant future in my case) I think it would be a pity if our work dies with us. But web sites only exist while people pay for them, and after I have carked it mine will disappear, and all my translations and other work with it. Maybe not a great loss, but I think at least part of what I have done should be preserved.
Maybe not a MIRROR, but a common Depository where the important information is preserved. I have been trying to set up Web Horology to survive far into the future. There are those that are willing to carry on after I can no longer do this.
This can only happen when members can lay aside their Individual Accomplishments and strive toward a COMMON GOAL.
Richard, you going someplace
The loss of Richard's and Fortunat's sites would most definitely be a great one.
I unfortuntely know nothing about programming, webdesign or website creation, etc, but could someone here summarize what would be necessary to preserve the invaluable information, manuscripts etc that have already been gathered, translated, made available?
Given permission, hosting existing information is not a big deal. The issue is finding it a stable home, so that it doesn't become lost or otherwise unavailable to those who would appreciate it. Authors pass on, sometimes without giving anyone permission to use the information. Organizations sometimes collect more information than they can afford to host. Choices have to be made. I believe these are some of the issues that threaten the future of information.
Two thing you can do , to help in a small way to preserve for thefuture information that is gathered and published on private websites (like e.g. Richards fantastic Watch Bibliograophy) is to:
1.-- spread the word that these sites (which operate on a shoestring and have no money for marketing purposes) exist and encourage your friends to use them.
2. -- do your small share in crerating a durable copy of the information of the published material (in most cases that is expressidly allowed, even encouraged at these websites). Richards Bibliography is webpublished (rather
than printed hardcopies) because the cost for Books would be prohibitive. But YOU - every one of you- should print out the 1000 plus pages of the book (It will cost you some hours and dollars for paper and ink) and then have it bound together somehow, because experience shows that loose sheets dont survive the first owner. At least use a comb or spiralbinding system, better yet use a bookbinder and make a hardcover book.
And while you are at it, make a second copy for a library.
I did just that with Richards book, printed out 3 sets (of 2 volumes), and had them bound in Hardcover leather bindings, and donated one to the National Watch and CLock Library in Columbia.
I am sure most of you know of a chapter library or a collector friend who would love a copy. The more copies exist the more likely some will survive somewhere for future generations of horological researchesrs to consult.
People die, but corporations, in principle, are immortal. We don't have enough history to know that any association will be immortal and horological associations only have a few hundred years history. However, if the NAWCC were to undertake a full repository of some of the transient information currently on the web it would have a much better chance of survival than if individuals did it.
With the continual decrease in the cost of digital storage, I don't see any reason why it cannot all be held in a single repository that is disaster proof with coupled machines maintained some distance apart.
As one possibility, the NAWCC and the BHI could get together to create such a facility with identical information in England and in the US.
The BHI is currently 150 years old and the NAWCC is a bit over 60 years. I could easily see the information being safe for at least a couple of hundred more years.
I have (had) a lot of data on 5-1/4" floppy disks ... virtually inaccessible today. It is now on other media, but my point is that digital data still has a limited lifespan. As technology changes older media become obsolete and unreadable unless one has saved an older drive and the software to run it. Even some CDs recorded on older, slower drives or under obsolete formats may be difficult to read. I agree with Fortunat that we need to print as much of this as possible.
Web-published research is also easy to do and search right now, but has no guaranteed permanence. For this reason we should support our Bulletin with material for hard-copy publication and distribution.
No one can guarantee that media will last forever. Books and paper are called ephemera for a good reason. They only survive because of the high volume of copies produced.
You could have easily upgraded your floppy disks as new media became available. All digital archives perform such migrations on a regular basis.
I mentioned the lifetime of corporations because they are legal living entities and as such they grow, adapt and repair their injuries. We have no better guarantee of survival than that.
I would venture a guess that all the horological information available today in the world will fit on a pocket size device within the next 50 years and that includes page images of all the current books and periodicals.
Both Tom's and Fortunat's ideas are worthwhile. Fortunat's idea each of us can carry out individually, and that's a good thing.
I wonder if it wouldn't be good to have a project for searching the web, though, and getting members to copy (or get permisison to copy and then copy) farflung material.
Organizing a project sponsored and run through Nacc and BHI-- and what about AWI, particularly in regard to trade and repair information?-- sounds like a great project.
My only concern is that, although I've been away from Nawcc for a while (in terms of paying attention to news, etc), it has seemed that it's hard to get Nawcc to consider, much less begin, forward-looking projects. My hope is that that's changed?
or a repository similar to it.
Yes, it's a depressing thought to entertain, but nontheless true: our data formats, not to mention our media, have even less (indeed far less) permanence than our own physical existence.
I was privileged to have an informal chat recently with the chief archivist of one of the premier American universities. He assured me that the only way to deal with the problem is, as Tom mentioned, to constantly migrate to new media and new formats. This requires a dedicated (professional) staff and the resources to pay them, as well as pay for new media and equipment. We certainly can't trust to luck to constantly find knowledgable volunteers to perform this task, nor to finance it. That means we need to entrust this to a group of like-minded people, i.e. an organization. Fortunately, we already have a few such organizations: the NAWCC and the BHI.
Many librarians and archivists are dubious about the wisdom of committing scarce resources to never-ending (or bottomless pit) data migration projects. They prefer to just keep everything on paper, having previously been burnt on such migrations (such as copying all their periodicals to microfiche). Certainly, it seems a wise plan to keep (multiple) copies of all important information on paper. But I think digital storage is different, for several reasons:
It takes very little space (and will take even less in the future.)
It can be copied without degradation.
It can be easily transmitted, retrieved, and copied.
Most important- it can be acted upon by "smart" programs to, say, index or sort it in ways not now envisioned.
It's just that it's such a daunting committment.