[rfc-i] Digital Preservation Considerations for the RFC Series -- draft-flanagan-rfc-preservation-00.txt is posted

Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) rse at rfc-editor.org
Wed Sep 10 04:41:03 PDT 2014


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On 9/9/14, 8:04 PM, John Levine wrote:
>> As per usual, top-to-bottom reviews* are more than welcome, but
>> if you have a particular issue you would like to see discussed in
>> more detail by the community, please pull it out into its own
>> thread on this list.
> 
> Hi.  I think the analysis is fine as far as it goes, but it misses 
> some stuff.  In particular, it seems to me that it's at least as 
> important to save the format and tool documentation as the
> software because a significant way to recover ancient stuff is to
> reverse engineer the tools using more modern technology.

Good point.

> 
> To take an example in a different context, if you have a deck of
> punch cards, there are approximately no working card readers left
> to read what's on them.  But it is not hard to kludge something up
> to run them through an optical scanner or past a camera, nor is it
> hard using modern software to find the punched holes in the images
> and recover the text on the cards.  But that depends on knowing the
> specs for the cards, both the physical specs for the hole
> positions, and the logical specs for what combination of holes
> represents what character.
> 

No, not punch cards!  Anything but those!

> I have written scripts in modern(ish) languages like perl and
> python to translate ancient markup languages into something I can
> run though current document formatters.  Hence I would encourage
> the archive to include the XML separate from the PDF/A, because XML
> would be a lot easier to deal with if you're reverse engineering
> from scratch, and to preserve the xml2rfc specs in various online
> and offline formats to help reconstruction efforts.
> 

I'll update the text.  Thanks for the feedback!

- -Heather


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