I recently presented a talk titled “Preservation Is Forever.” In this talk, I reviewed the Terms of Service for many online services offering photo products and digital storage. Many of these services have terms indicating that they can delete photos after a period of time (typically one year without ordering) or otherwise discontinue or change their service. These statements are correct, but they should not be interpreted as indicating that they will do this, only that their is a risk of something bad happening.
Here’s where we need to discuss statistics. If there is a 10% chance of something bad happening in a given year, after seven years your photos are more likely to be lost than preserved. With a 20% chance of of loss, this time decreases to four years. The same problem happens if we assume lower probabilities, although it takes longer. With a 5% chance of loss, your data is more likely to be lost than preserved after 14 years, and with a 2% chance of loss your data is likely lost after 35 years.
What is the actual chance of loss? I don’t know, but my estimate is that in any given year, the probability for loss is between 5 and 10%, given the many things that can change with online businesses. If this is in fact the case, then Forever, which states that it will preserve your data for your lifetime plus 100 years, is really the only option for long-term preservation. The reason Forever meets this need is because the Forever Guarantee Fund provides the resources to ensure long-term preservation, eliminating risks associated with other online businesses.
Note: To calculate years lifetime, use the formula Y=Log(0.5)/Log(1-p), where Y represents the expected lifetime in years, 0.5 represents 50% chance of data preservation, and p is the annual probability of data loss.
I am glad I live in the U.S. and do not have to worry about writing Chinese characters. My handwriting is bad enough, and I can’t imagine what it would look like if I had to reproduce the complexities of Chinese characters on a regular basis. Chinese characters have up to 29 or more strokes compared to a maximum of four with the Latin characters used for English. Small font sizes make the difficulty of reproducing these characters even greater.
I presented a technical paper on the “Mizen_Relationship Between Chinese Text Quality and Card Printing_20150928” at Imaging Science and Technology’s NIP31 International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies in Portland, OR on September 28, 2015.
- We cannot predict whether a given printing system will satisfactorily reproduce Chinese text. The best approach is to print and then evaluate sample text.
- High-contrast printing systems give the highest image quality.
- Resolution is important, with 600-1200 dpi required for small font sizes.
- White text on a black background is more difficult to reproduce that black text on white due to expansion of the printed area.
- Single color printing gives better quality than composite color.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued new guidelines prohibiting photos of clocks, watches, and other timepieces because of concern that these photos will provide aid to terrorist organizations seeking to create clocks that look like bombs. This new regulations prohibits taking, editing, or storing photographs that provide information on timekeeping. Google is reportedly working to remove all photos of clocks and watches from its image database. When asked about other timepieces, DHS Secretary John Irving indicated that photos of sundials and hourglasses are also prohibited since they can be used to conceal explosive devices.
Note added September 26, 2015: This article is based on 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed who was arrested in Irving, Texas for building a clock that his teacher thought was a bomb. For more details see Muslim teen Ahmed Mohamed creates clock, shows teachers, gets arrested.
See http://missymwac.tumblr.com/post/92167991015/local-woman-prints-iphone-photos-leaving-friends for a novel way to preserve cell phone photos.
Here are some interesting links to articles on loss of digital information:
The digital black hole: will it delete your memories?
Google boss warns of ‘forgotten century’ with email and photos at risk
Google executive and co-founder of the internet Vint Cerf says you need to start printing everything out
The role of print in preserving the past
Now, go make a photo book!
Apparently, stupid selfies are not restricted to Russia. Yes, that is right. The United States needs its own public service campaign. In case you missed the story, Alex Gomez, 36, from Lake Elsinore, CA was bitten by a rattlesnake he picked up to take a selfie with.
In the interest of public safety, I have developed the “No Selfie with Rattlesnakes” sign above. Feel free to post this sign wherever rattlesnakes may be present.
Fortunately, I live near Minneapolis, and we don’t have rattlesnakes here.