Re: Central vs. Distributed Archives

From: Tim Brody <>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 17:58:14 +0000

> > Greg:
> > As a rule, it is better for web sites to share the same archive than
> > to each have fragments. It is better for Oxford and Cambridge to
> > each have all of Shakespeare's plays than for Oxford to have only the
> > comedies and Cambridge to have only the tragedies. That is why I favor
> > shared interoperability, which is in some ways centralized, to fragmented
> > interoperability, which is optimistically called decentralized. Massive
> > redundancy is one of the few strengths of the existing paper-based system;
> Stevan:
> I am not an expert on digital storage, coding or preservation, but I am
> not at all sure that Greg is technically right above (and I'm certain
> that the Oxford/Cambridge hard-copy analogy is fallacious). I would
> like to hear from specialists in localized vs. distributed digital
> coding, redundancy, etc. -- bearing in mind that in the case of the

If I may separate the political issues from the technical.


There is a fear that a decentralised system will result in no overall
"responsibility" for archive continuity. But, equally, a centralised
body can decide that a system is no longer useful or is too expensive
to be free - what happens if XXX goes pay-per-view? What rights do
mirrors have to store XXX if they are told to remove their archive?


The fear is that there will be only one copy of a paper stored in an
institution department or library and if that archive is lost that
paper disappears into digital oblivion.

Data storage is very cheap - there is little difference between storing
1 or 100 copies. Oxford and Cambridge could farm all world physics
archives and store their contents. This is not currently done because
Open Archives include pay-per-view archives, where only the abstract
can be farmed - and hence there is no provision for farming of texts.

I may also point out that there are already archives that perform
distributed mirroring - math arXiv is primarily made up of papers that
have been archived elsewhere (judging by the lack of associated meta
data and updates).

Tim Brody
Computer Science, University of Southampton
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:57 GMT