And as has been said already, repeated re-copying is costly.
I find repeated copying to be very easy now that storage costs are plummeting (sans Thailand's floods...a temporary blip). Optical media is out. It's all about cheap magnetic hard drives and cloud services.
Digital copying gives the most bang for the buck by far, but with the caveat about readable file formats. Sticking to the photo theme, JPEG and PDF are ISO standards with long-term projections of functionality of 100+ years.
But only a fool sticks with one archival system for visual media. We do know that paper if stored properly is very durable. I advise all friends and family to print their works (acid free paper in photobooks is excellent; with a PDF of the layout) as well as digitally backing up locally and offsite. But the cost of printing can be very expensive, so it's best left to some edited amount of data. It can never be a complete record.
Data protection is all about redundancy. Digital is easier at redundant but more difficult for long term compatibility. Analog has options for long term archiving, but requires substantial editing to be cost-effective and has single site storage vulnerabilities.
Interesting from the article I linked to that Kodak and others were working with archival stakeholders on solving these problems as best and economically possible. It's another shame in the management of Kodak that some of this initiative was not made a core part of their business profile. It would never be a huge revenue generator, but Kodak had some brain power applied to it, and it seems all that business data went elsewhere.
There are many lossy ways to duplicate digital files that are quick and easy; to duplicate a digital media file with high fidelity is more difficult and expensive. If you want the very best archival storage, I believe the very best approach is probably to record redundant copies side by side on the same storage device with digital encoding ... on film. I am not 100% sure how the Fuji system works but that's what I suspect. Anyway, here is a fine example of Fuji doing the right thing to use its film technology. Other examples include privacy screens for laptops.
Jpeg is a non archival standard sorry Jpeg 2000 is considered somewhat archival but not by much classic Jpeg is in fact one of the worst image data formats ever. Tif is the standard because it still works after a bitfailure which happens quiet often, a bit failure in a jpeg file and the file is toast. For Cloud computing is pretty new and there still a lot of legal issues. Again Standard PDF is not considered a long term digital preservation file PDF/A is.
Here's an interesting article in The Economist entitled "The last Kodak moment? Kodak is at death’s door; Fujifilm, its old rival, is thriving. Why?"
Much of the article is precisely as most of us would expect, but there are some less obvious points as well. Worth a read.
Thanks Keith! I find the omission of the fact that Kodak does market sensors odd though, the article paints them in a corner without mentioning those advances (which never attained mass market save for Leica). Which at the end of the day Kodak are still in the same corner though, just a though though that the author brushed over the sensor route as if to say they didn't try, but I am saying they did but seems to be futile...time will tell. Good read though!
Kodak did make digital investments to substitute revenues lost given the mass move by consumers from film to digital, but not enough effort was out into maximizing their value. Kodak did not cut its film margins fast enough to keep up with the consumer, nor did it divert enough margin to digital from its other profit centres. The article very correctly points out that Fuji did just that--cutting its traditional product lines and investing in or purchasing new ones--and is thriving.
Yes, a good article.
What I find sad is that Kodak's really good sensor work didn't find its way into smartphones as a way to promote the phone themselves. Imagine if Kodak had been able to position itself as the brand associated with image quality and then design the sensors that go into iPhones and iPads and such. That'd be helpful, adjacent marketing- making use of the brand you have to push another. (The economy printer biz is a great counterexample- almost no adjacency and actually doing irreparable harm to the existing brand)
I suspect it would have taken something like an Apple-Kodak partnership to waken a big, lumbering dinosaur of a company. Even if Kodak would simply bless a design and have the sensors outsourced abroad, that would buy some play in a market that (I would argue) will eventually take down higher-end digital. Not next year nor the next, but the all-in-one concept is what the consumer wants and it'll still go a lot further than it has- the young market is there. The other thing is that sharing and cloud storage are far from finished with the changing the market and how people display their imagery. Kodak would be very late to that game but maybe, just maybe somebody will still find a way to think big...