Talk:White Paper: Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally

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Many thanks for your excellent paper and your thoughtful contribution. A few suggestions you may want to consider:

    1. Media Obsolescence

I'm not sure the example (page 4) of the phonograph LP as an enduring media form is a good one--this is more likely the exception than the rule. There have been many popular storage formats over the years that are now very difficult to work with at present owing to the lack of usable technology. The computer 5 1/4 inch floppy disk and the open reel tape recorder come to mind--the latter having a history almost as long as the LP (ca. 1950). Users are likely better off assuming that obsolete technology will disappear and planning for orderly migration to the mainstream of what the market supports at present.

    2. Archival Video

I had difficulty understanding your reasoning (page 6) surrounding appropriate formats to archive digital video. Quicktime is Apple's proprietary container format and is burdened by the same limitations and issues that surround all proprietary formats. Many times highly successful companies can and do disappear quickly, often taking their proprietary formats with them. As with other container frameworks, Quicktime relies upon encoding schemes (file formats) that are almost always lossy by their nature.

The Quicktime File Format (QTFF) is the basis (mostly) for the MPEG-4 file format; hence it is hard to understand why MPEG-4 should not be preferred, as it enjoys much wider acceptance.

Likewise, the Audio Visual Interleave (AVI) is a container format that (usually) employs lossy encoders. There is little to recommend AVI over more current container technologies, such as MP4 (the typical, although not the exclusive, container for MPEG-4).

Except in very unusual circumstances, users will archive their video using some form of lossy file format/codex--the alternative is simply too unworkable. An uncompressed standard definition DV AVI file, for example, can run around 30gb per hour, which is beyond the means of most users to store--and unnecessary.

Users are likely better off with widely-accepted, non-proprietary current container and codex technologies, such as MP4 and MPEG-4, while recognizing that these (like AVI) are lossy formats and some quality is invariable lost, especially with repeated reformatting  Such standards themselves will need to be reevaluated in the future as technology continues to evolve.