Joel Franusic (joel) wrote,
Joel Franusic

Why I want to store data on paper

In my continuing quest to find long term storage solutions, one medium keeps coming up: paper.

Why? With any new technology we can only make statistical guesses at the lifespan of that technology.

With paper, we have over 500 years of experience printing and storing it. Considering all that experience, and that there are 48 remaining copies of the original Gutenberg Bible, I don't think it is unfair to assume that there is a lot of research and guidelines for the long term preservation of paper.

With this in mind, what I'd like to have are two tools: The first tool would use existing research to simulate all the various types of ways in which paper can be damaged: rips, tears, fire damage, heat damage, water damage, and so on. The second tool would build off of the first, it would print and scan arbitrary binary data to and from paper using error correction sufficient to survive the common types of damage that paper experiences.

I can't say I've searched very hard for software to fill the role of the first tool, as such, I don't know of anything that fits in that domain.

As far as the second tool goes, Xerox has DataGlyphs, but that technology is proprietary and presumably expensive, Microsoft recently came out with a technology recently, but whatever. The only software Open Source software I've been able to find is one program Paperback - and it seems to be something of a joke. It seems like public domain PDF417 standard might be the closest existing solution in this area, if nothing else, it's probably a good place to start.

Since it seems that both of these tools are rather domain specific and ... esoteric. It looks like I'll be writing them myself.

I already have a name for the second tool. I'm going to call it "par".

Time to get hacking.
Tags: paper, par, storage

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