27 July 2006

CASPAR = Openness

Something called "Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval (CASPAR)" sounds like a typical money-wasting euro gravy-train. But the central problem it aims to address - "How can digitally encoded information still be understood and used in the future when the software, systems and everyday knowledge will have changed?" - is important, and becoming more so by the day.

Over long periods of time, you cannot hope to keep every wacky proprietary data format alive by storing copies of the relevant software: you'd also need to store old operating systems, software manuals etc. The only practical solution is to use open formats. For these, the information will be accessible long after the programs that created them have gone to the great data repository in the sky.

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