[vcf-midatlantic] Could a Blockchain based file system be the answer!

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Thu Dec 21 11:02:25 EST 2017

This discussion thread, was/is about using some kind of "blockchain 
technology" to preserve vintage computing data, programs, PDF's, photos 
- you know, the digital bits - with some kind of distributed file system 
like "blockchain".

I'm afraid that in my stone-age 20th century opinion, this is all 
besides the point, in any number of ways.

0) I refuse to engage in discussion of "blockchain" as per preservation 
of vintage computing content. Blockchain is a means to an end. I'll 
address the "end".

1) The issue of preservation of digitized content, is mostly about 
physical archives. Either one has physical media (say, CD-ROMs) or one 
has a physical presence for accessable data (some file server on a Web 
domain). A number of people and organizations do this; they should be 
supported. If someone wants to add themselves to the crowd, save and 
distribute copies, that's up to them. If someone wants to create a new 
organization, they can do that.

Otherwise, show some love to those digital archives that you USE for 
vintage computing. Every day. For free - except someone is paying 
someone for your "freedom".

2) The issue of saving CONTENT does not preserve *physical artifacts*. I 
have worked for decades to support and preserve S-100 physical systems, 
root out their history, support their restoration. Real cards, real 
power supplies, real diskettes, real paper documentation. All the 
emulation in the world is not the same as a "ugly box of boards", 
sitting on your desk, roaring fans, clunking floppy drives, blinking 
lights, toggling switches (if any, that stopped in 1979 or so), and so on.

The challenges of preserving physical artifacts are enormous. Physical 
space and collecting them is only the beginning. Putting them *back to 
use* is challenging squared. There's many "museums" which are stacks of 
computers on a shelf. They have "don't touch" policies, and few on-staff 
who know how to plug in an AC power cord. The legacy of use, and the 
capacity to read old data and programs, depends on *use* of vintage 
computing devices.

Emulators succeed in running recovered data and programs. They are very 
useful in reverse-engineering programs and data files (even on audio 
cassettes) which are already (re)digitized. They simulate computing on a 
screen, on modern computers: this at the very least, encourages interest.

But there was a time when personal computing was NOT about images on a 
TV screen! Preserve *that*!

Herb "Flintstone Computing" Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT info

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