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Emulation For Preservation of Digital Artifacts

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sitting-at-his-virtual-desk dept.

Emulation (Games) 81

An anonymous reader writes "Author Salman Rushdie donated his papers and notes to Emory University a while ago. Not surprisingly, many of Rushdie's original notes, drafts, and correspondence existed in electronic form. Rather than printing them out or converting them to other formats, archivists at the university created an emulated image of Rushdie's old computer, complete with old software. Researchers visiting the archive can read his email in Eudora and his Stickies notes, or read drafts of his books in ClarisWorks. When you leave your legacy to future generations, would you like a virtualized copy of your personal system to be included?"

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81 comments

When I was your age... (2, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961416)

But it will totally mess up talking to our grandkids! They will know exactly how bad it was.

Re:When I was your age... (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961508)

Why, when I was young, there was no streaming video from "pornhub.com"... I had to download ASCII porn from a dial-up BBS over a 1200 baud modem!

Now that "the network is the computer", it is not enough to emulate just the local machine... much of what a computer does relies on interaction with a network that will be radically different in just a few years. E.g. how will all those DRM encumbered videos and tunes authenticate? Most of what my daughter regards as being "on the computer" is actually just the local interface of an application running on a server thousands of miles away.

Re:When I was your age... (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961910)

Now that "the network is the computer", it is not enough to emulate just the local machine... much of what a computer does relies on interaction with a network that will be radically different in just a few years. E.g. how will all those DRM encumbered videos and tunes authenticate?

Simple: take a snapshot of environment that the authentication requires, and then emulate that in perpetuity.

Re:When I was your age... (1)

shogun (657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962476)

Now that "the network is the computer", it is not enough to emulate just the local machine... much of what a computer does relies on interaction with a network that will be radically different in just a few years. E.g. how will all those DRM encumbered videos and tunes authenticate?

Simple: take a snapshot of environment that the authentication requires, and then emulate that in perpetuity.

Sounds simple... so why aren't pirates currently doing just that?

Re:When I was your age... (2, Funny)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962506)

Sounds simple... so why aren't pirates currently doing just that?

Well I don't know, maybe they are ... but the issue is how to maintain the authentication long after the authenticators no longer exist on a network. I assume that a digital museum could obtain the co-operation of the rights-holders to perform the needed authentication emulation.

Re:When I was your age... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962694)

take a snapshot of environment that the authentication requires I tried, but for some reason Blizzard and Steam won't let me take a snapshot of their servers. Go figure!

Re:When I was your age... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962124)

When I was young (actually in my mid 20's) only the rich people had 1200 baud. The rest of us had 300 baud.

Re:When I was your age... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963628)

"Actually"?...

Re:When I was your age... (1)

dotgain (630123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965678)

I'm not 100% sure, but I think he means he's currently 20 years old, and used a 1200 baud modem around about when he was negative five.

Re:When I was your age... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963194)

Good, perhaps in the future the elders won't have it so easy to paint their views as more valuable than they really are. Who knows, it might even help them realise a) who funds their well being now b) who covers majority of their medical expenses. Perhaps resulting in decency not to frak things up (say, while voting) many years down the line, when they are long gone.

I pity the future (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961438)

Who the hell is going to want to go through my old electronic junk? There is so little of value spaced out amongst so much cruft that it wouldn't be worth anyone's time to sort it all out.

Re:I pity the future (2, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961980)

No one is, and that's because you're no Salmon Rushdie...

Re:I pity the future (5, Funny)

BrettJB (64947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962140)

No, but it's entirely possible he's Salmon Teriyaki, or Salmon Sashimi...

He might even be a nice Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Citrus Glaze Served with Seasonal Vegetables and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Re:I pity the future (2, Funny)

beckett (27524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966946)

with cynicism like that he's most likely Salmon of Doubt.

Re:I pity the future (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962034)

Send it to me, ill go thru it.

Re:I pity the future (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962272)

"Who the hell is going to want to go through my old electronic junk? "

Tell that to the guy who was using the Rosetta stone as a doorstopper.

Re:I pity the future (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963138)

Trash dumps are one of the most valuable objects for archeologists. They tell quite a lot about people who left the trash, indiscriminately, without really any whitewashing from the culture you want to study.

Re:I pity the future (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964628)

Most of our fascination with the past is not "how they lived" but rather "how they survived given the hardships of their existence". Nobody in the future is going to care how we lived or died, other than to note that we turned more raw resources into garbage in a single century than all of humanity consumed in all prior centuries combined.

There are exceptional people, of course, that are fascinating to study for reasons other than "how they survived." I will not be one of them, not even with significant cultural whitewashing.

Re:I pity the future (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965892)

A year after you die, almost nobody. A hundred years, possibly quite a few. Two hundred, I'm betting it'd quite possibly of historic importance. Recording and understanding history is very limited by how little "guy on the street" information we have for so much of it.

Non-free operating system (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961460)

How well will this sit with Apple and other copyright owners of non-free operating systems, applications, and media files that were on the decedent's drive?

Re:Non-free operating system (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31961550)

Given what Apple offers free for download on their site [apple.com] , I would tend to say somewhere between "pretty well" and "don't care."

Re:Non-free operating system (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962158)

Mostly that's updaters they have for free download. You can't download Claris Works.

They do have MacOS 7.53 available.

(I don't need to, have it on original CD)

Ahh, ClarisWorks... (1)

haaz (3346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962856)

I find it funny that Rushdie was a Mac user back then, and used ClarisWorks. I actually liked that package a lot, as it did about enough for most people. I just think it's funny that he used it and Eudora at about the same time that I did.

Re:Ahh, ClarisWorks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31963924)

Honestly, what did you expect from a connoisseur such as Salman Rushdie, Microsoft Word ? Beurk...

Re:Non-free operating system (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961620)

Why would this be an issue? It's not like you or I can download it and experience it, we have to go and visit the archive to see it.

Having an emulation of the computer just helps preserve the original, while only 1 copy of the OS/App/Media is active at all.

This is how VMWare can justify Virtualization. You can use 1 license for everything, and have multiple copies of the machine available, but only 1 running.

Re:Non-free operating system (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961670)

Why would this be an issue?

Do they make sure to run the emulated Mac OS only on an Apple Labeled Computer as per the EULA?

Re:Non-free operating system (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962202)

Maybe they stuck one of those Rainbow stickers on it that you get in the package with many Apple products.

Any computer can be Apple Labeled if you've got those stickers.

(I've always liked placing the Intel Inside stickers on wastebaskets.)

Re:Non-free operating system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964554)

Sorry for the slightly unrelated post, but is anyone here able to identify the name of the emulator they are running on the computer?

Re:Non-free operating system (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961630)

Well, licenses are still transferable, so their opinion probably doesn't need to matter.

I imagine that the legal apparatus in the U.S. would also, eventually, tend to side with the archivists (there are lots of judges that, in the event a lawyer came into their court to complain about a librarian making an archival copy of a 15 year software system that is no longer available for sale, would tell the lawyer to get bent, in approximately so many words).

Hmmm... (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961512)

cd /porn
rm -rf

Re:Hmmm... (2, Insightful)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961534)

Don't forget to zero it out!

Better yet, use the Gutmann method [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Hmmm... (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962746)

The Gutmann wipe has been overkill for a very long time. Disk density is high enough that a single random pass is enough.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

UnixRawks (705739) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961750)

Forgot the * , rm -rf will do nothing for you. Nice try on humor though :)

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31963206)

rm -rf * .*
Or, easier
find -delete
Nice try at being pedantic though.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965438)

rm -rf * .*

Beginners mistake.

# rm -rf * .*
rm: unrecognized option '--newb'
Try `rm ./--newb' to remove the file `--newb'.
Try `rm --help' for more information.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967136)

I don't think you understand what pedantic means... Plus, for goodness sake, it was just a joke.

Depends... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31961520)

...do you still have a working ext3 driver in the future and do you want 100 gigs of tranny porn and bad PHP programs?

Re:Depends... (2, Funny)

Velex (120469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964452)

do you want 100 gigs of tranny porn

As a tranny myself, all I have to say is, "Link plz."

Re:Depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964484)

7chan.org/di
99chan.org/di
99chan.org/cd
img.420chan.org/cd
trapchan.org

I was just pondering that notion. (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961590)

My ideas are not original. In fact, the idea sort of comes from various story lines from popular SciFi shows like Star Trek and SG-1. Not only should we be creating digital archives, we should be creating digital archives inside of orbital vehicles that are capable of sustaining their own orbits indefinitely. We should then beam up any and all data we can about ourselves to survive as evidence of our existence. If 2012 "end of the world as we know it" really were to happen, such digital archives in space would be at the very least pretty interesting to any beings that emerge after us or who happen along through our star system.

This would be rather like voyager but would be continually updated as time and technology progresses. Keeping it in orbit is just about the best way to preserve it whether the data storage is in our local orbit or on the moon.

Re:I was just pondering that notion. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961664)

I'm all for it, if you pay for it.

Re:I was just pondering that notion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31961780)

yeah cuz we gotta pay the bankers to create money, since the market has a monopoly on money creation, and bankers gotta get paid before researchers trying to advance knowledge and develop the technology to predict and adapt to sudden catastrophic environmental change. I mean, if our elected officials could create money like the banks do under the fractional reserve, why would anyone develop things like the atomic bomb or computers or the internet, unless some banker had loaned it to them first?

Re:I was just pondering that notion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31961812)

Apparently Evangelion was content with a crucified bio-engineered weapon floating in space. Just a bit of perspective, mind you.

Re:I was just pondering that notion. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31961852)

Until the public get spaceships, then someone will drunkenly ram the digital archive with a megatanker and deorbit it along with hundreds of years of history. On the other hand, bounty hunters chasing outlaw ship jackers may get it blown up as collateral damage. Orrrr someone accidentally feeds the wrong targeting data into a kinetic kill missile.

Pff, orbital museums. It's just best to store that data in the 'net, cyberpunk genre systems are more reliable than space sci-fi.

Re:I was just pondering that notion. (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962872)

My ideas are not original. In fact, the idea sort of comes from various story lines from popular SciFi shows like Star Trek and SG-1. Not only should we be creating digital archives, we should be creating digital archives inside of orbital vehicles that are capable of sustaining their own orbits indefinitely.

And when another civilization comes across it, it takes control of their captain's mind, has him/her/it experience a lifetime as a member of the other culture, then permanently wipes itself and leaves them with nothing but a flute?

Re:I was just pondering that notion. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963260)

Keeping it in orbit is just about the best way to preserve it whether the data storage is in our local orbit or on the moon.

If you meant there orbit around the Moon...that's a bad idea, orbits there are highly unstable. But placing most of the data storage under the lunar surface is probably the best place. Kinda like second monolith...

Re:I was just pondering that notion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31970162)

And then send it in for a chance to appear on "galaxies dumbest civilisations!"

Insensitive clods (1)

wbean (222522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961722)

Why do they need to emulate Eudora. I still use my copy every day. It runs fine under 64-bit Windows 7.

Re:Insensitive clods (1)

dryo (989455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965258)

I'm still using Eudora too... after all of these years. 13 years I think. WinXP64 currently.

Re:Insensitive clods (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 4 years ago | (#31970940)

they're clearly talking about eudora for classic mac os, given the references to clarisworks and stickies.

Easer to store (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961814)

The problem is too far into the future the host you chose to emulate on may not exist either..

Re:Easer to store (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961888)

Well then just emulate the computer used to host the emulator!

Re:Easer to store (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962146)

Of course, but it will be a question of how many layers can you go until things become unusable. At some point it wont be realistic.

Re:Easer to store (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962684)

Of course, but it will be a question of how many layers can you go until things become unusable. At some point it wont be realistic.

So long as you have a few generations of hardware between the 'layered' emulators it shouldn't be a big deal; back in the 90s I remember running a DOS-based Sinclair Spectrum emulator on a PC Emulator on a Sparc laptop and the games ran at the same speed as the original Spectrum despite having two layers of emulation between them and the real CPU.

Of course emulation bugs will tend to accumulate through the layers, so if you have fifteen layers you may find that it doesn't run the way it's supposed to :).

Re:Easer to store (1)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963566)

Why would it not be realistic? PCs today is literally thousands of times faster than the last common PCs that can't run binary-compatible software with them. I don't see any reason to think this won't remain the case in the future, even if it always seems like there are show stopping performance limiting problems in the short-term.

Re:Easer to store (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965452)

I've just downloaded an emulator for an old system I used to use (George 3 on an ICL 1900).

The emulator wants to run on Windows.

Bugger, I'll have to run it under wine.

My preferred format? (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961902)

When you leave your legacy to future generations, would you like a virtualized copy of your personal system to be included?

Sure, but the writing on the walls of the cell gets kind of hard to read in the corners.

pointless (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961924)

Information has a shelf life: Most of the stuff on anybody's computer is really uninteresting, even to the owner of the information, and becomes more uninteresting as time passes.

Add to that the fact that a lot of the contents of any given person's computer is the same as those of everybody elses. (E.g. how many copies of windows and word would be saving if this practice was to be widespread? How many viagra and cheap mortgage offers in the junk folder of the email program?)

OK, so some of it may be historically or anthropologically interesting for coming generations, but most of it will be as disappointing as those clay tablets enumerating how many sacks of grain somebody owned 3,000 years ago. Once the challenge of cuneiform script was overcome the actual data was a big yawn. Any reason to think Rushdie's notes will be any different?

Somebody will object that this method will preserve the programs etc needed to "decode" Rushdie's stuff in the future in case the programs are lost - but what happens if the emulation technology is lost?

Good Idea (5, Interesting)

joebok (457904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961994)

When my Dad died last year, I made a VM of his laptop so I could help my mom out finding documents and other things that she would need for taxes and getting everything sorted out in her name.

That is pretty much done now, but I still keep my dad's VM around. I was his tech support and I was always answering questions and sorting things out when they got messed up. He had made some funny personalizations to it (sounds and such). So even though I don't need it anymore, I still fire it up when I miss him. I even apply all the pending updates - I guess it is part of my grieving process.

Re:Good Idea (3, Insightful)

Eric the Half-a-bee (72380) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962566)

I think that is awesome.

Re:Good Idea (4, Funny)

waynemcdougall (631415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962664)

You mean I don't get out of providing tech support for my family members even when they die???

I'm going to need a Plan B...

Re:Good Idea (2, Funny)

baKanale (830108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964036)

Even worse, you don't get out of providing tech support for your family members, even when you die! Bwahahahaha!

Liebot (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31981604)

THIS is the saddest thing ...

I like it (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962106)

Interesting idea. I don't know if its for me, per se, especially since I'm not a very prolific, writer, thinker, inventor, or all-around brilliant mind, but it is a way to leave a virtual presence postmortem.

We need to get the roms from pinball games and oth (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962214)

We need to get the roms from pinball games and other Redemption games that still have not had there roms dumped.

But pinmame / vpinmame and visual pinball have saved most of them but the ones that we still don't have rom dumps for are some of the ones that need to be saved.

Re:We need to get the roms from pinball games and (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965994)

... but the ones that we still don't have rom dumps for are some of the ones that need to be saved.

That is very profound.

Digital Artifacts? (1)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962784)

Digital Artifacts: Save The Jaggies!

They MUST emulate, may be no other option... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31962900)

When everything you've created was done in Electric Pencil on CP/M, copying the text to something more modern isn't all that difficult (providing you can read the 8" floppies). But when the works were done with obsolete software on an obsolete OS, but are something a little more sophisticated-- say the Music Construction Set on the Commodore Amiga, or the Swahili version of Wang Office, it might just be easier to emulate the hardware it ran on rather than try to figure out how to get it converted to something else...

Why Emory? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963908)

Rushdie is an Indian-born Brit, educated at Cambridge, a winner of Booker Prize (as well as Booker of Booker). Why are his papers entrusted to Emory?

In case anyone actually /wants/ to read my crap (2, Interesting)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964214)

my journal is in flat 7-bit ASCII, a choice I deliberately made back in the '90s.

I don't expect anybody but my daughter to be interested, though.

If that's Rushdie... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964328)

they're real.

Could be a possibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964738)

that after a while the emulator platforms also become outdated, and have to be virtualized themselves. Will the next centuries see the activity of scarving through levels of virtualization to get to some digital past raising as a new archaeologic discipline?

This is the greatest idea since Penicillin. (1)

HarlanBagels (1796794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965196)

I hold a master's degree in Library and Information Science, and I honestly believe that the only way libraries will continue to be relevant 30+ years from now is if they jump on the digital bandwagon.

Just think about all of the rare, exclusive info that's been published in the last 100 years of many of the "small time" newspapers alone!

House plans, original artist renderings, articles that were lyrical and powerful and educational all at once (because let's face it, we're about 80 years past the height of literacy in this country, people.)

Digitization is not just a good idea. It's the absolute way of the future.

--

http://www.limbocomics.com/ [limbocomics.com] [limbocomics.com]
The tagline: "COMICS! HOT ACTION! (Mostly comics.) And a little ACTION!"

Emulation hacked, data lost forever!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31965630)

I doubt this archivist will know how to secure digital data against deletion by malicious hackers.

die-hard retro users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31965848)

In the Commodore community, this is coming up more often as people age. Several of us have passed on recently leaving behind huge libraries of floppy disks. Even if only the disks themselves are imaged (sector-by-sector copy to a file that can be used in emulators or stored on other computers), it can be a huge undertaking.

Take a look at KEEP... (1)

synoniem (512936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31966346)

KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable) will develop an Emulation Access Platform to enable accurate rendering of both static and dynamic digital objects: text, sound, and image files; multimedia documents, websites, databases, videogames etc. It's a project supported by the EU and several National Archives across Europe.

Data Longevity through Virtualization (1)

GRNXNM (204086) | more than 3 years ago | (#31968000)

I recently implemented this exact feature for my employer's image-based backup product for Windows systems. I hesitated to post this, at the risk of sounding like a commercial, but I think it's relevant.

The product itself (ShadowProtect) makes snapshot-based backup images. The relevant feature, called VirtualBoot, can be used to immediately boot a specified backup image within a Sun VirtualBox VM, without the need to restore the backup or to convert it to any other file format (lengthy operations). There are many use cases facilitated by this feature, and data longevity is one of them.

By preserving the applications and operating system, along with the data, the data's lifespan is significantly increased, particularly when data stored in proprietary formats (where the source apps are essential in order to consume the data).

Eudora? Functional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31970750)

Can we hit Delete?

azizajalal (1)

azizajalal (1797864) | more than 4 years ago | (#31981928)

This is the best thing for ever Film [solarcontrolfilmsinc.com]

Copy of my system - no way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986412)

They'd have to include my sticky keyboard. :)

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