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

Fred Cisin cisin at
Sun Jul 21 21:58:39 CDT 2019

On Mon, 22 Jul 2019, Guy Dunphy via cctalk wrote:
>> Most of us probably wouldn't destroy a Cultural Artifact (e.g., Taliban
>> destruction of Buddha of Bamiyan statue) but many might destroy a Technical
>> Artifact in the belief that its overt information content defines its value,
>> and that one that value has been captured digitally the Technical Artifact
>> effectively lives on in that form.  The corpus is merely that ...
> Even if the digital version _did_ fully capture the information content, I
> strongly dispute that the physical item/document has lost it's value.
> That 'digital is all we need' viewpoint is a trap for the naive, because:

. . . and does it FULLY capture the information content.  One might 
think so, but much later, somebody asks, "in the number on page 576, is 
that a '3' or an '8'?"
There is always the possibility of a need to go back to prior, or even 
original forms.

> The necessity to preserve multiple redundancy, is why destroying a hardcopy of a 'rare-ish'
> manual in order to scan it, is so bad. Especially when the tendency to do that has become
> widespread, so there's a high rate of attrition of whatever do remain in private hands.

Many arguments are actually based on inadequaate definition of terms.  Two 
people who might actually agree argue based on having different 

For example, cutting the spine off of a book can definitely be considered 
to be DAMAGING the artifact.  But do we want to consider that 

Certainly landfilling once something is scanned is "DESTROYING" (although 
what was the final result of the landfill salvage of those game 
But putting the book back on a shelf, without its spine?
That may seriously damage cultural aspects, but not necessarily the 
informational value.
And, admittedly, there can be some corner cases, such as if slicing off 
the binding lost notes scribbled in the margins by an important prior 
Oh, and when you die, your executor may be quick to discard all of those 
unbound books.   When I die, contact my sister, bring a skip, and offer to 
do all of the hauling for her at a lower rate than any of the commercial 
services charge.

At some point, most collections end up in the hands of "administrators" 
with no appreciation for the materials.  "And, it is certainly not worth 
the cost to keep all of this crap!"

Another example to keep bringing up -
BBC did not think that there would be any further need of the already 
aired Dostor Who episodes, and could reuse the tape.  Besides, "some other 
department has copies of all of them".  There's 100 episodes for which NO 
copies have been found.   It's a big deal when a 16mm B&W print is found 
in a shed in the outback, or even home 8mm movies of the living room TV 

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