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

william degnan billdegnan at gmail.com
Thu Dec 21 11:23:33 EST 2017

On Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 11:02 AM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

> 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*!
> Regards,
> Herb "Flintstone Computing" Johnson

Very reasonable.  As far as what's in electronic format now, blockchain's
big thing is security and verification, not file distribution. A
VCFed-sponsored or privately managed bit torrent server would be more apt
to what you're talking about.  There are Tandy, Commodore, PC, Apple, CP/M
collections that would be perfect for such things.  Also useful for ISOs of
workstation build CDs.  I have used bit torrent to capture these.  If 5 or
10 of us kept a bit torrent session active with some of these collections
that would be the functional equivalent of what I believe you're talking
about.  We could set up an internal password for VCFed members I suppose to
keep it within the group.


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