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33. Why Open Digital Standards Matter in... > Standards and the Problems with Digi...

Standards and the Problems with Digital Technology

The switch to digital documents entails two separate problems: obsolescent media and unreadable software formats.

The obsolescent media problem is hardware-related. Digital storage media are much more fragile than nondigital ones: parchment lasts millennia when handled well, hard drives just a few years. Furthermore, digital media go out of date as new and better ones are invented—for instance, lots of people stored documents on floppy disks in the 1980s and 1990s, but hardly any computer systems can be found now with floppy disk drives.

The second problem is much more serious. Even when the container works perfectly, bit sequences are absolutely useless if you don’t know what they mean, and if the instructions you need to read or translate them are lost or too expensive to buy.


  

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