It's the rock-like layer that apparently makes the difference...
First of all, I'd like to give my friend - and fantasy author - Sherry Thompson a shout-out for bringing this to my attention. If she is planning on using an M Disc to store copies of her novels Seabird and Earthbow, then future generations will at least have some quality material to read. If you're stuck for good reading and you enjoy original, high-quality fantasy novels, Seabird and Earthbow (volumes 1 & 2) - published by Gryphonwood Press - are just the ticket.
Now, on with the show...
As I browsed the M Disc website, I was intrigued by the technology. As an author, I can well appreciate storage media that will protect my valuable intellectual property from adverse and extreme heat, cold, moisture and light.
It just so happens, I am working to recover the manuscripts of not one, but two, novels from one of my old hard drives. Judging by the graphics above (courtesy of the M Disc website), once I recover my precious words, I better get down to the nearest online retailer and purchase an M Disc-compatible recorder and some M Disc media. Because I don't want to experience this same stress and potential loss in seven or eight years all over again. I will want to inscribe my manuscripts onto a disc that will last a full millenia...
One thousand years!
The software to recover my novels will cost me in the neighborhood of $100 and will run on any Windows-based PC or laptop. How much will millenia-sized disks cost me? A 10-pack of M Discs will only set me back $29.99 plus shipping if I order them from the M Disc website. But then there's that tricky part about needing an M Disc-ready drive. You see, you don't just record pictures of your beloved Mr. Bigglesworth onto an M Disc - you have to engrave them.
There are several internal and external drive options conveniently noted on the M Disc website, in both DVD and Blu-Ray flavors. An LG Electronics 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Internal Drive GH24NS50 (Black) will run you $31.95 on Amazon. Conversely, an LG Super Multi Blue Slim Portable with 3D Blu-ray Disc Playback and M-DISC Support CP40NG10 is a little heftier at $64.99 + shipping and handling.
The problem is, none of this technology helps me recover my data...so I still have to pay the piper for software to glean my novels off of the old, faulty hard drive and then pay again to engrave them into one or more M Discs. Still, isn't the peace of mind worth it?
I'm not disputing the ability of the technology, just maybe the need for the technology. I have to wonder: couldn't we come up with something that is somewhere in the middle? I mean, we go from reasonably stable storage for up to eight years with a flash drive, all the way to one thousand years with an M Disc. I'm no math wizard but you would think there would be multiples of storage capacity available...twenty years, fifty years, one hundred years? I guess it beats clay jars...
If I'm lucky, I'll live a hundred years. Assuming our progeny live that long as well, that means ten generations of X-lings would be able to enjoy my New Kingdoms fantasy series and other stored data long after I'm gone. But the whole idea of millenia-long storage brings a few other thoughts to mind.
Today, people are discovering embarrassment can be, well, embarrassing, when words and pictures we thought were private appear in the public sector. Imagine storing the contents of your personal computer on one or more M Discs and, say, eight hundred years from now someone happens across them. Do you really want future archeologists - or some old guy with a metal detector - finding all your most personal pictures and data...and still being able to retrieve it?
"Ooh, Ima Photoshop these babies..."
Then something else struck me: Have humans really developed the hubris to believe anything we might collect and save to an M Disc will be valuable a thousand years from now? I can see where saving great works of literature, science, the arts (no, not the complete library of The Simpsons), or other things of historical significance would be a good idea. But judging by Facebook and other social media, I can't say that there is much in the personal lives of any of us that would bear up under scrutiny a thousand years from now. Unless you are willing to concede a future Jon Stewart will need light comedy material from the 21st century.
Finally, will the human race as we know it even be around one thousand years from now? Frankly, the way things are going, I have my doubts. Asteroids, Global Warming, the Rapture, Thermonuclear War, Pandemics, Starvation, an explosion at the Large Hadron Collider...any number of things could render M Disc's reported Forever Storage completely moot. And then who will be left to care about Mr. Bigglesworth?
What do you think?