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  Aroideana going digital -- the downside of progress
From: Jason Hernandez <jason.hernandez74 at yahoo.com> on 2015.12.24 at 02:31:06(23512)
So, I read in the last newsletter that the newsletter is going back to hard copy, and Aroideana is going fully digital. I understand the advantages, and certainly I am not one of those Luddites who oppose technology. I will be the first to admit that when I do my research, I go first to JSTOR and Google Scholar, not to hard copy journals. When I look at the physical space occupied by my collection of Aroideana unbroken since 1998, and compare it to the physical space occupied by a jump drive capable of storing all those volumes, I see the advantage. Likewise, when I think about the physical space and amount of paper that would be required if I were to print out hard copies of every digital document I currently have, I see why digital is desirable.


I cannot help but offer you these nuggets of wisdom from Gotelli and Ellison (2004):

"Few readers will remember floppy disks of any size (8", 5-1/4", 3-1/2"), much less paper tapes, punch cards, or magnetic tape reels. As we write, the ubiquitous CD-ROMs are being replaced by DVDs, and we expect to have to purchase our vinyl record collections again for the second time in as many decades.... Thus, although we still have on our shelves readable 5-1/4' floppy disks with data from the 1980s and 1990s, it is nearly impossible in 2004 to find, let alone buy, a disk drive on which to read them. And even if we could find one, the current operating systems of our computers wouldn't recognize it as usable hardware." -- note 7, p. 211

"Last, the Web is neither permanent nor stable. GOPHER and LYNX have disappeared, FTP is being replaced by HTTP, and HTML, the current language of the web, is already being phased out in favor of (the not entirely compatible) XML. All of these changes... have occurred within 10 years. It often is easier to recover data from notebooks that were hand-written in the 19th century than it is to recover data from Web sites that were digitally "archived" in the 1990s!" -- note 8, p. 212

Gotelli, Nicholas J., and Aaron M. Ellison. 2004. _A Primer of Ecological Statistics_. Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates, Inc.

I found this to be valuable food for thought, anyway. I have a 3-1/2" floppy and even an 8" floppy, and no idea anymore what documents or data might be on them, because I have no way to access them. Meanwhile, I can still access the contents of my great grandmother's diary written in 1919.

Jason Hernandez



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