PDF (was publication of IASS papers on CDROM)

Gunthard Mueller gm at ANTHOSIMPRINT.COM
Wed Dec 20 14:23:39 UTC 2000

Hello, Dominik,
sounds like some regular nightmares.
Can I help you with your 5.25" disks? We run a digital archive over here, not
just for indological materials, and we still support these things. I was
around in Oxford in the late 80s, too, and I remember the Zenith PCs...
Considering it's 5.25" material, I assume you have Unix or DOS based content.
Maybe we can help.

I don't think forward-compatibility will be easy at all. It will require major
changes in infrastructure to give birth to a feasible digital library
scenario. There are entirely new types of services attached to the process.
Many institutions will drop out or outsource. New kinds of librarians will
Your horror stories from the eighties (I can add a couple, too) are what you
would expect from what is even now a relatively new technology. Considering
how long it took for Mr. Daimler and Mr. Benz to produce something for which
you did not have to get supplies from the pharmacy, I think it would
irresponsible to spread unnecessary doom. The digital library will probably
look different from what any of us envisages now, but I am sure it will
eventually work if we give our best.

If I may add one last note about TeX here. Your examples were almost
completely academic or rooted in very early beginnings with hard-to-change
gargantuan platform infrastructure. We have supported professional production
environments during the last 11 years, and there is not one who has retained
TeX. You say TeX can be simple for novices without programming if you use
LaTeX commands. I have written visual tools for LaTeX myself and I beg to
differ. And using commands IS programming, as far as I know. Comparing TeX to
Microsoft Word is strange. Word is not a production environment, either.
Anyway, the whole point is that TeX never got properly normed. I also think to
encourage anybody at this stage to take up TeX is not what I personally
consider responsible. Sorry. I agree this is getting off-list, and I will now
definitely not respond any more to TeX messages.


Dominik Wujastyk wrote:

> On Wed, 20 Dec 2000, Gunthard Mueller wrote:
> > What I personally envisage as feasible would be this kind of scenario.
> [description of migrating-on-demand of data from obsolete formats]
> In 1977/78 typed two chapters of the Kumarasambhava into machine-readable
> format.  I used an IBM card punch machine.  I also wrote lots of programs,
> and typed some other texts.
> I vividly remember running (literally) to the computer centre in Oxford in
> the late 1980s, when I heard that they were about to discard their last
> card-reader.  I managed to hand my shoe-boxes of cards in to the
> conversion service just days before they stopped accepting cards.  As it
> was, the main card reader had already been shut down, and my cards had to
> be partly entered by hand, and header-footer cards had to be punched with
> a hand stencil.
> The data I rescued from imminent loss is now on 5.25 floppies.  I cannot
> read them either now.
> I don't believe anybody who thinks data migration is simple, easy, or not
> a major problem.  Preserving computer data is a dynamic, costly process
> which requires pro-active management.
> Cf. http://www.clir.org/cpa/abstract/pub63.html
> --
> Dominik Wujastyk
> Founder, INDOLOGY list.

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