Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Preserving Wynton Marsalis in Digital World

Last weekend, I saw Wynton Marsalis perform at Paramount Theatre. During the performance, I started to think about how legacy of Wynton Marsalis would be preserved in digital world.

Long time ago, the primary way to preserve music was to write on music sheets. Overtime, some of these sheets were physically destroyed or ink faded. One way or the other, some of the music was lost. Also, different people interpreted the written music differently (A debatable point as I am no expert on this topic ... treat it as view from the outside) as there was no audio or video archive of the original performance. The main challenge in that era was physical preservation of music sheets.

Things in music world have changed dramatically since the introduction of audio and video technology. Now, music is primarily preserved using audio, video or both. This shift has allowed more and exact information about a particular music to be preserved like the interpretation of the music by the original artist and his or her original performance. With digitization, even the making of a particular piece of music can be archived for future generation. This change also has brought new challenges in preservation of music.

Will we still have access to the music of original artists, hundred or even twenty years from now? The answer is no longer as simple as physical preservation of music sheets. The digitization of music along with its benefits has brought new challenges in long term preservation of music.
  • Survivability of the audio and video file formats.

  • Capability of the application to play original audio and video file formats.

  • Availability of original digital rights management process if DRM was applied to the file.

  • Availability of original encryption key management system if file was encrypted.

  • Capability of the operating system to be able to host application and support media and system.

  • Physical survivability of the media on which audio and video are recorded.

  • Physical survivability of the system capable of using the original media.
Come to think of, the long term preservation challenges are not exclusive to music, they also apply to all other information that need to be preserved for the future generations. And, these issues become lot more complex to address once the file, application, keys (DRM, encryption), OS, media, system, and storage are physically separated.

No comments:

Post a Comment