[Foundation-l] Long-term archiving of Wikimedia content

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Tue May 5 07:47:05 UTC 2009

On Tue, May 5, 2009 at 12:02 AM, Tim Starling <tstarling at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> I can tell you what the Rosetta folks would say: they would say that
> they paid $125k to Norsam for 5 prototype discs, and that we are free
> to do the same. Norsam have developed this technology at great cost
> and expect a commercial return, regardless of who's paying them.

The $25k per disc quote includes the research and development costs
for the entire Rosetta project.  That's what they were asking would-be
sponsors to pay for a final disc (which includes a nickel half, a
titanium half with sexy black matte coating and a different etch
process, and the encasing double-hemisphere of lenses...)  The
business end of the etching seems to be 20 cents per page to make a
master, with lower costs for copies.

> By the way, it's FIB etching, not laser etching, and the discs are
> nickel-coated silicon, not plain nickel.

Thanks for the correction.  You're right, it's focused ion beam
etching (and re: my earlier musing, etching images seems to cost the
same as etching text).  I'm not sure about the plating - I believe the
Norsam Rosetta process etches a silicon master, and makes solid nickel
plates with that...  compare the article you linked to with the
description here  (which also has a nice photo of 13,500 pages etched
at 10 pg/mm^2):

> <http://www.internetnews.com/storage/article.php/3771051/Storage+That+Really+Lasts.htm>
> Personally I think it would be a waste of general funds, since I don't
> expect we'll see the end of civilisation any time in the next year or two.
> Maybe if there was a directed grant, it would be appropriate. Or
> we could have a small investment fund aimed at paying for such an
> archive in 20 years or so, when the process will be cheaper.

There's certainly no need to use current resources.  People who are
producing or investigating good archival technology, and those curious
to own early copies, may contribute to the cause.  And one might try
to produce 100k pages a year, using the best processes available each
year, cycling through topic categories.

A major value I see in having this sort of discussion is as a work of
practical art, to expand circles of thought.  This could be part of a
long-term plan for highlighting the lasting value and meaning of the
projects.  An investment over time with small contributions from many
people would be appropriate.

Pharos writes:
> If we or anyone were to go this route, wouldn't microfiche in a sealed
> plastic container be a lot cheaper and more practical to mass-produce?

Are you imagining digital-to-microfiche printing?


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