Scanning question (Is destruction of old tech docs a moral crime?)

Guy Dunphy guykd at
Sat Jul 20 22:00:03 CDT 2019

I'm posting a private email (anonymized) and my reply because it's a 
significant issue.

>{Note private reply}
>    > When the scanning process involves destruction of the original work
>    > ... But if it's a rare document, or even maybe so rare that it's the
>    > last one, then destroying it now just to produce a digital copy
>    > inadequate to the aims of cultural preservation - that's a crime.
>    > One right up there with genocide
>While I agree that making a non-optimal digital copy in such cases, is,
>well, non-optimal (because for _many uses_, the basic information is still
>available, wheras for many important documents, not even that remains),
>there's no way it's "right up there with genocide" - and if you really
>think so, you definitely need to examine your sense of scale, because it's
>seriously defective.
>	[name removed]

I agree that when historical documents are lost without even any kind of
digital copy made, that's the worst.

However I was pretty careful to preceded that quoted paragraph with conditionals.

Specifically referring to a case where someone has a rare work, that isn't
in danger of falling apart, and there's no good reason why they couldn't 
wait till better scanning methods became available, and they destroy it to
produce a crappy quality digital image. Thus ensuring there can never be
a high quality digital copy and the rare physical original is forever gone.
That's criminal. A high level crime against humankind. Where it's done in
bulk to entire collections, it _is_ the cultural equivalent of genocide.

I don't care if you disagree.
Could it be that you are upset because you do this (destroy docs), and don't
like to be accused of being a criminal?
I am sure that the future WON'T take your position on this. They are going
to be sooo pissed, that so many old works were destroyed and all they have
left is crappy quality horrible-looking two-tone scans.

This is _already_ the case with many electronics instrument manuals. There are
so many people who think that the physical manuscript is unimportant, and nothing
matters other than posting a minimally readable smallest-possible-file online,
with the least effort and so it's OK to destroy the original for convenience.

Private reply noted. Still going to repost on the list, as from anon.


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