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Weekly News Digest

July 31, 2018 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

'Microfilm Lasts Half a Millennium' by Craig Saper

Craig Saper writes in The Atlantic that “the microfilm machine is still widely used. It has centuries of lasting power ahead of it, and new models are still being manufactured. It’s a shame that no intrigue will greet their arrival, because these machines continue to prove essential for preserving and accessing archival materials.”

He discusses the origins of microfilm and then its decline as optical character recognition (OCR) became popular. “By the 1980s and ’90s, OCR was fast replacing microfilm as the go-to search and retrieval mechanism for business and legal documents, but parallel to that decline, microfilm emerged in a recurring role in mystery and horror movies,” he writes. “Microfilm had become part of a campy joke about discovering dark, salacious secrets. … When Adobe introduced the portable document format (PDF) in the late 1990s, allowing facsimile-like scans to be available in electronic and, later, in searchable OCR forms, microfilm fell further out of favor as a storage and retrieval system.”

However, “Today’s digital searches allow a reader to jump directly to a desired page and story, eliminating one downside of microfilm. But there’s a trade-off: Digital documents usually omit the [historical] context. The surrounding pages in the morning paper or the rest of the issue of a magazine or journal vanish when a single, specific article can be retrieved directly.”

Microfilm “devices are still in widespread use, and their mechanical simplicity could help them last longer than any of the current electronic technologies … [such as websites that] often vanish, or CD-ROMs, for which most computers don’t have readers anymore.”

For more information, read the article.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli

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