We are going to experiment with different ways of trying to destroy the information on digital storage devices and paper in order to find out; what is more perishable? We are documenting the outcomes, the strengths and weaknesses of the different digital storage devices and the paper. The amount of information that is still intact after the attempt to destruct it will be an indication of the reliability of the information carrier. The paper and digital storage devices will have the same information content.
We have been using physical methods of destruction so far and the paper seems to be the most robust. The next step will be to look at digital methods of destruction. We destroyed the physical digital data carriers but not the digital data itself. How does immaterial digital data perish and how does this relate to paper? There are websites archiving ‘dead’ websites, a digital graveyard you could say. But a graveyard filled with zombies, the information is still there and readable.
In order to find out what it more perishable; digital or analog storage, we collected various digital storage devices such as usb sticks, floppy disks and CD’s. We put the same information (the first chapter of Post Digital Print) on every storage device and also printed it out on paper.
Then we decided on methods of destruction. We tried applying the exact same methods on all the storage devices to make a somewhat accurate measurement of the ‘readability’ (digital; can it be ‘read’ by the computer / print; is the typography still ‘readable’). Basically; to what extend is the data corrupted?
We set out to make these experiments happen, both working by ourselves on our own experiments and documented them through text and images.
The methods of destruction;
- the hammer;
- a fall from the second floor;
- local heat for we used a lighter;
- even heat for we used the oven;
- pouring cold water over the objects;
- pouring boiling water over the objects;
- the freezer;
- dipping into glue
- spraying ink over the objects
Information storage devices;
- USB sticks;
- floppy disks;
Hammer (10 blows)
Paper: readable with major data corruption
Floppy: readable but not easy to get in/out of the floppy drive
Remarks: when we tried reading the CD, the laptop started making really weird noises. Not something we want to try again.
Paper: minor data corruption
Remarks: the paper did get slightly scratched but it really does not affect the readability.
Local Heat (lighter for 5 minutes)
Remarks: no surprises here.
Even Heat (100 degrees celcius for 5 minutes)
Remarks: we really did expect something to happen!
Remarks: this method did not really seem to affect anything, the paper did get wrinkly after it had dried which made it slightly less accessible.
Remarks: we expected some form of data corruption on the digital devices.
Remarks: here too we expected at least some form of data corruption.
Remarks: USB not readable at all becuase it is clogged with glue. The paper is nearly unreadable because the pages stick together, you still can recover some of the information but only in parts.
Paper: readable with minor data corruption
Remarks: Spraying ink over the USB did not cause any data corruption, whereas the paper suffered some minor data corruption. We do not dare to put another damaged CD in our laptops.
After presenting these results, we got the suggestion of looking into digital destruction methods. In our experiments we have been using physical methods of destruction on both digital and paper information carriers. It would be really interesting to find digital ways of destruction and relating these methods to the analog world of paper. Next to this, we still have the task to find a way to present the research as a whole.