Can we “greenify” the recording industry?
The recording industry has proved to be widely polluting. Neither vinyls nor CDs nor K7s nor web streaming or any other audio support has ever been eco-conceived or recycled on an industrial scale.
I feel like the answer won’t come from the industial actors. Here are a few lowtech / DIY ideas to help.
In search for an green material
My specifications for the material:
- easy to recycle
- long lasting
- easy to restore
- low cost
- easy to DIY.
Paper looks like an ideal candidate:
- already recycled everywhere in the world, biodegradable, can be green-sourced
- the oldest paper document in Europe is nearly 1 millenary
- the conservation and restoration of paper is well known and easy
- paper is cheap
- printers are widely available and easy to operate, and it’s also easy to print on an industrial scale.
How to store audio?
There are several ways to store audio on paper: analogic and digital.
Phonopaper is an example of optical representation of sound.
PhonoPaper is a camera app for playing pictures with encoded sound (PhonoPaper-codes). With this app, you can also…
Digital encoding with base64
Based on text, base64 encoding is already in use on the web.
In programming, Base64 is a group of binary-to-text encoding schemes that represent binary data (more specifically a…
As it is based on text, base64 is easy to restore. The text can be downsized to increase the density of information, so down-size the final paper format.
Digital encoding with QR codes
QR codes and barcodes look like a seducing way to increase the density of information. It has to be challenged with teh results of base64 encoding.
Note: some websites provide MP3 “embeded” in a QR code, but in fact the MP3 is stored online and the QR code stores the URL of the MP3 file.
Hints to increase the density of digital encoding
One can use color to add “layers” to multiply density the information.
- black& white = 1 layer of information (6 bits)
- 4 colors (CMYK): 4 layers (24 bits).
Note: professional audio is encoded with 24 bits.
- one can imagine using more color nuances to encode more layers.
Analog vs digital encoding
I looks like the density of information, ence the duration of audio that we can store, is larger with digital encoding.
Since today, recording studios can use base64 as a standard way to store recordings. It looks like a much more reliable and far cheaper alternative to the standard means of conservation:
- Magnetic data (tapes): 10–30 years
- CDs and DVDs: 5–10 years
- Hard disk*: 10–40 years
- Flash storage: 5–10 years or more (depends on write cycles)
- Cloud: not announced. Should last longer than hard disk.
*take care to use external disks with standard interface (usb).
How would you access today a SCSI or firewire hard disk with your computer?
- provide an open standard for the professional archival
- provide some creative and realistic formats for record labels and DIY musicians.