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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Myths, Misinformation & Misunderstandings

Well-meaning reporters and marketing hype all contribute to problems in communicating digital information

Labels: Learning Center

Several things are important to consider (and this applies both to CDs and DVDs). First, there's no evidence that discs made by quality manufacturers for archival purposes (which we've always recommended for PCPhoto readers) have or will have any problems with CD rot. Second, extensive testing by quality CD manufacturers of their premium discs, such as Verbatim DataLife or Delkin Archival Gold, shows that these discs will hold up for decades and even centuries as long as they're not physically abused. Third, cheap discs have had more problems than just CD rot, including not being able to be read by multiple computers and becoming unreadable by all computers within a short time (another reason to avoid cheap, too-good-to-be-true deals on CDs). Finally, there's some evidence that the acid in permanent markers can affect the top layer of a CD or DVD; use markers made specifically for these discs.

Digital Images Found In Dead Sea Scrolls
The misconception that digital images can't last as long as photos from film took a nasty turn when a group promoting itself as interested in protecting families' photo resources said that family memories were now being lost because of digital (and newspaper journalists reported their line), that people weren't printing enough of their images and digital files would be lost. That's a misrepresentation of how photography works. Let's look at some facts:

•Old colored photos from our parents and grandparents are fading rapidly. Prints aren't the answer alone. It's a lot easier to deal with multiple backups of digital files than fixing a faded print.

•Few people keep their negatives for prints, so there isn't anything archival about that! Plus, even if the negatives are kept, they're rarely stored properly or in any kind of searchable order.

•Color photos stored in albums, or worse, shoeboxes, and in garages, attics and basements, often are damaged by heat, humidity, fungi and bugs.

•The old, black-and-white photos of our ancestors (black-and-white traditionally has had a longer life) are specific, saved memories that have rarely existed in quantity. No one ever printed every black-and-white photo taken like color prints were in the past.




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