The Dead-Media Bogeyman
Most of today's long-term computer users have experienced dead media in the form of the 5.25-inch floppy disk.Most of todays long-term computer users have experienced dead media in the form of the 5.25-inch floppy disk. If you have an old disk to read, you probably no longer have a computer equipped to read it; the 5.25-inch drives are becoming collectible. But if you have one, you should know that a lot of plastic and rubber parts fail. Tape backup is worse. I have a number of backups on nonstandard tape that are useless, their data essentially lost forever. Dead-media issues are not confined to digital computers. For example, most of the vintage 1960s quad-head video gear for recording TV no longer works. The few big Ampex monsters that are left are being used to transfer old tapes onto a different format while they still can. There probably will not be enough time to move everything over, and plenty of quad tapes will remain in storage and become useless.
This brings us to the issue of digital photography and all the pictures we are taking. Will they end up on dead media and be lost forever? Probably notand perhaps the opposite will happen. As anyone who has adopted digital photography knows, you end up with too many backup copies of your images. With digital imaging, we take more pictures and have more perfect copies than ever. During the film era you had one lone negative, and it was often scratched.