UNC resident Nobel Laureate talks on media storage problems

This Daily Tar Heel article spotlights a lecture given by Nobel Laureate, Oliver Smithies, professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at UNC. Smithies won the Nobel for his work with gene targeting in 2007. While most of the lecture attendees were expecting a talk on this work, Smithies surprised them apparently with a sobering discussion of the problems with outdated storage media.

..he brought a collection of his old notebooks to the event, along with a floppy disk, CD and other storing devices.

“They’re all going to be out of date,” Smithies said regarding the CD and the floppy disk.

“We have to get that information down somewhere. That’s the problem with information science that you have to think about.”

We still have so much work to do in order to preserve access to data on an institutional level, but I am wondering what, besides nagging people to keep their data moving, can we do to ameliorate the problem for the individual? And I just get the chills anytime someone advises the greater population that the best way to preserve digital information is to “print it out.” Chills.

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