[LMB] why we still need paper books

phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Thu Sep 22 05:43:26 BST 2011

On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 08:08:18PM -0700, Elizabeth Holden wrote:

> I don't know what the ideal medium is.  Sometimes oral tradition looks
> best, ephemeral as it is - but it's only good as long as people keep
> it alive.

For sheer durability, carving into stone works quite well.  Ashoka's
rock and pillar edicts are still around 2300 years later, in India.
Fired clay tablets or cylinders work too.  I'd imagine some sort of
clear covering could help against weathering.  Inscribed metal sheets
can be thinner, but risk being melted down, or corrosion -- guess you'd
want aluminum or stainless steel.  Multiple languages too, to help deep
time translation; Ashoka's edicts weren't readable by anyone for a long
time...  Dry climates have more options, as Egyptian painting shows.

Seriously, if you want to leave something for the deep future, get some
clay, write what you want clearly (inscription, or maybe paint, or
both), and fire it.

For something more usable, maybe using plastic instead of paper?  They
can resist biodegradation, at least to known bacteria, and getting wet.
Sun exposure or thermal variation might be another matter.
Braille-style holes could avoid any lost-ink problems.

Microfiches don't care about digital formats, just magnification.
Stability of the film is another matter.

Micro-engraving on stone or clay would give high density and maybe high
durability, though small character size means more vulnerability.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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