The lifespan of a floppy disk is 20 years, magnetic tape 10 years, and hard disks only 5 years. The oldest books in the world are thousands of years old, as old as civilisation itself, coming from the ancient kingdoms of Sumeria and Egypt. Do we owe it to our future generations to start backing up our digital media as 1s and 0s in books?
A 10 pt page can fit approximately 5000 1s or 0s, or 5 Kb of information, hardly an impressive size. We can fit much more by reducing the font size and printing double sided. Let’s give a conservative estimate of 50’000 bits per sheet of paper (6.25 KB).
It’s quite obvious that this is not a good way of storing written words – language is a tad more dense than bits. However, there currently is no future-proof way to ensure our music today is heard as it should be. Is this the best way of recording music for future generations?
MP3s are typically 128 Kb/s. Applying that to our bits per paper means a book of 4’300 pages could hold Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up replacing the space taken up by your Song of Ice and Fire collection on your bookshelf. This is worth it.