External Memory Systems: Part 2 of 4

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Note that if the defective playback system were repaired, it would then be possible to recover the information on the tape. Thus while failure to recover information from a memory system is an instance of information loss the information is not necessarily permanently beyond retrieval. This point can be illustrated in another way, suppose you consulted a card catalog in a library and then went to the place where the book should be shelved.

If it wasn’t there and hadn’t been checked out, you couldn’t retrieve the information in the book. The book could have been permanently lost or simply misplaced. You might make an exhaustive search of the stacks for the missing book-another retrieval process, But even if this failed the book might eventually turn up, or you might be able to locate another copy in another library or bookstore. So you couldn’t consider the loss permanent. Later we shall consider similar instances pertaining to human memory, when it is difficult to decide whether information is permanently lost or only temporarily irretrievable.

Notice that information is represented in different ways in each of the memory systems we have considered sprinted letters magnetic patterns). Each of these representations or codes has its special properties, such as the ease and speed with which you can code (encode) various forms of information and the sorts of things that will interfere with retention.For example, a person’s voice is normally easier to store on magnetic tape than on the printed page, although a good writer may describe a voice quite accurately.

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