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Re: <nettime> Goodbye Classic ?
Benjamin Geer on Wed, 7 Nov 2007 16:00:33 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Goodbye Classic ?


On 07/11/2007, t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com> wrote:
> But it's important to recognize that the kinds
> of standards you mention (Perl, JPEG, etc) are, as you suggest, more
> resilient because they're open -- but only 'more' resilient. [...]
> We don't know which standards will be accepted or
> applied in the future;

But there's a crucial difference between an open format and a
proprietary one: if you create your work of art using proprietary
software tool X, and X uses a proprietary file format which only X can
read, then it's nearly impossible to convert your work to any other
format. (It may be possible for programmers to reverse-engineer the
old format, but it's not certain that this will be possible, and in
any case it's an enormous task). Your only hope of preserving the work
will probably be to preserve X (i.e. to preserve a machine that runs
X, or to have a programmer create an emulator of such a machine, which
is also a Herculean task).

However, if you create your work of art in an open format like HTML,
even if the whole world stops using that format ten years from now, it
will still be easy to convert your work into another format, because
(a) there are a lot of programs, including Free Software, that can
read HTML, and (b) even in the (nearly inconceivable) event that no
such programs existed, it would be relatively easy for a programmer to
write one, because HTML is an open format (i.e. there is a publicly
available specification), so no reverse-engineering would be required.

The same principle applies if your work of art is a program written in
a programming language for which there is an open standard and/or is
implemented as Free Software, and if you distribute the source code
of your work. If everyone stops using the platform (type of computer)
you worked on, but the language runs on other platforms, there's no
problem. (Most languages that are implemented as Free Software run
on several platforms.) If everyone stops using that language, in all
likelihood the language can be ported relatively easily to another
platform, or your program source code can be translated (by a human
being, or by a computer program) into another programming language.

It's true that conversions require work. But conversions from
proprietary formats require orders of magnitude more work than
conversions from open formats, and are sometimes impossible, whereas
conversions from open formats are always possible, and usually
trivial.

On 07/11/2007, Kazys Varnelis <kazys {AT} audc.org> wrote:
> Take, for example, PHP/Mysql. [...] The default encoding had been
> Latin1 [...] Unfortunately the upgrade didn't go as planned.

This is not the fault of PHP or MySQL; it's your ISP's fault for not
paying attention when upgrading MySQL. Of course it would have been
easy for them to configure MySQL properly and keep your data in the
same encoding after the upgrade; they just bother to think about it.
No software, whether free or proprietary, can protect human beings
from their own stupidity.

On 07/11/2007, yaco <yaco {AT} yaco.net> wrote:
> most lute works can be performed
> using a modern 6-string guitar, but hearing it played on obsolete
> hardware --ie: a lute-- will let you experience the piece in a way
> much more closer to the composer's intention.

I think that Bach's lute suites sound better on guitar, that his
harpsichord pieces sound better on piano, and that he probably would
have thought so, too. In any case, why should we care what he would
have thought? The performer, like the curator, is an artist, too.

Ben






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