Digital records ‘obscure the past’.

Digital records ‘obscure the past’. BBC News has an excellent story on the problems of digital archiving. Well worth reading, as it raises some fundamental questions. On the surface, digitization would seem to imply that data has more longevity – for example, an ASCII version of a book will be copied in so many places that it has a much better chance of surviving.

However, the problem is that ASCII is about the only lingua franca of computers, and it’s a poor, low-bandwidth way of storing information. Richer formats have a habit of either being proprietary (PDF), which might give them a more limited life than open ones. And don’t even start thinking about the problems of physical media…[BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]

Wired ran a piece from

Wired ran a piece from Mitch Kapor, on “Ten things I hate about Outlook”. Kapor, as you may know, is currently working on a project called Chandler, which is designed to be a much more freeform and interesting (and useful) organiser than Microsoft’s product. There’s one problem: Mitch specifically asked Wired not to angle his Ten things as an anti-Outlook piece.

This is one of the reasons why print media could be in trouble. All too often, journalists (and I speak as one) have such a fixed idea of the angle that they want to pursue that they will do so, even at the expense of the facts. In the context of a print magazine, this makes a twisted kind of sense: part of the point of print is that the editorial control over it is tight, you are in a sense using your editorial skills to shape the news agenda. A good editor shapes it in such a way as to make the whole more coherent, without undermining the facts.

But that doesn’t mean doing what Wired did, which is to get the angle no matter what. In olden days, journalists could actually get away with this – the feedback loop was closed. However, now, blogging tools mean that not only will you get caught out – millions of people will read all about it, perhaps more people than read the original article. Wired should have known better. [Mitch Kapor's Weblog]

Ian Betteridge on Macs, mobiles, and technology