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ARCHIVES  March 2006, Week 1

ARCHIVES March 2006, Week 1

Subject:

Longish followup: technical obsolescence (Sony's Haldeman CD)

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Date:

Thu, 2 Mar 2006 09:57:29 -0500

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For anyone who is interested in the issue of unintended technological 
obsolescence
in history products, here's an answer I got when I posted my Haldeman 
CD question
to another Listserv, plus my response.  I think this sort of thing is 
more likely to
crop up with commercial products than archival records (where migration 
and emulation
should be taken into consideration).  However, it doubtless now affects 
some of the
products in university libraries.

[SUGGESTION RECEIVED FROM OTHER LIST]
This will be an application for VMWare-type technology, or a use for an
obselete computer.
I'll bet if you set up an old '486 with Win 95 or so, and nothing else,
you can get it to run. (You may even need Win 3.1?)
Win'98 might or might not work because of the various updates that
occurred. Your '98 machine has newer software that doesn't get replaced 
by
the old stuff on the CD.

Of course, you will want to keep that machine well away from the Web, 
as
no modern A-V or other security software would run on it.
With a free Beta of VMWare Werver, you could do all this on a Virtual
Machine, then save the whole install as a package that would play on
VMWare's <free> VMware Player.
The Player can be installed on modern machines, letting you run the
obselete machine configuration in its own obselete sandbox.

[MAARJA'S RESPONSE]

Thanks ...  Good advice.  Right now, I still can play the 1994 Sony CD 
of
the Haldeman diaries on my old desktop computer, which has a Windows 98 
first
edition operating system.  (I misidentified it as Win 98 SE in my 
earlier
posting.)  That's the one I loaded my CD onto and have used since I got 
the
computer around 1997.

Maybe I'll print out copies of each of the Haldeman diary entries over 
time,
as long as the old desktop computer still is working.  Talk about labor
intensive, I think it will be over between 1,000 and 2,000 pages!  . . 
. I'll quickly
add that there is no copy and paste feature available on the CD's 
display of the
individual diary entries. You can't highlight text, copy, paste nor can 
you export text.
There are no right click options. :-p  If any of you have access to a 
university library,
you might see if they have the Haldeman Diaries CD and whether they can 
play it on any
existing equipment.

For it's time, it actually was a very nice CD.  There were embedded 
links
that took you to photos of some of the events Bob Haldeman described in 
his
diary entries.  And the CD also has clips of some of the old vintage 
film that Bob
shot.  Its relative inaccessibility now shows what can happen to 
commercially
produced history products when technology changes.  Something like this 
is a
one shot deal, the original electronic publisher isn't going to reissue 
it in a
new format.

I remember talking to Bob in the late 1980s about his plans to 
electronically
publish his diaries.  It all sounded so futuristic to me at the time!  
Here's
what a reviewer in a history journal wrote back in 1994 (this is mostly 
accurate
but there are some flubs):

[BEGIN EXTRACT] "An even better sense of how CD-ROM can enhance a book 
can be
glimpsed in the 'complete multimedia edition' of The Haldeman Diaries: 
Inside
the Nixon White House, which was issued by Sony Imagesoft on CD-ROM
simultaneously with the publication of the print version?the first 
joint release
of a major book in both media.

Haldeman himself apparently came up with the idea of publishing his 
diaries
in CD-ROM after he saw Sony?s version of the Mayo Clinic Family Health 
Book.
When Sony executives asked: "What makes this a multimedia project?" 
Haldeman
told them "I?ve got twenty-seven hours of film."

The disk?s forty-five minutes of Haldeman?s "home movies" of everything 
from
Nixon dancing with Pat at Tricia?s wedding to Kissinger?s return from 
his
secret trip to China are the most delightful bonus that the CD-ROM 
offers over
the book. But there is also considerably more: the full 2,200 pages of 
the
diary (rather than the 1,000 pages in the print version); more than 700 
photos
(from an inscribed Bebe Rebozo souffle recipe to a shot of Nixon 
chatting with
Debbie Reynolds after Sunday services); a complete presidential 
appointment
book; almost forty brief (and poorly recorded) audio clips of 
Haldeman?s
recorded dictation of sections of the diary; a 130-page letter that 
Haldeman wrote, but
never sent, to Watergate prosecutor James Neal, in which he disputes 
the
charges on which he was convicted, and biographical information on 
almost 900
different people mentioned in the diaries." [END EXTRACT]

BTW, I disagree with the reviewer that the diary entries are poorly 
recorded!
  I listened to the original Haldeman recordings on audio cassettes 
around
1980-1981 as well as the CD clips in the mid-1990s and I thought they 
were good,
compared to some of the Nixon White House tapes!!

In closing, I'll just add that I liked the Bob Haldeman I met while I 
still
was a NARA employee during the 1980s.  I really respected his courage, 
of all
the people in the Nixon administration, he was the least afraid of 
facing his
past and his role in American history.  And he had served time in 
prison for
his role in Watergate.  I exchanged some nice letters with his widow, 
Jo, after
his death late in 1993.  She sent me a lovely photo of Bob with his
grandchildren.

Thanks again for the good advice. . . !

Maarja

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