Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why Digital Storage Formats Are So Risky

Why Digital Storage Formats Are So Risky.  Matthew Woollard.  Lifehacker. 25 February 2015.
While it may seem that digital files last forever, the growing digital sphere faces enormous losses. Even Google has been unable to ensure access for its archive of digital content. Technical solutions already exist, but they’re not well known and relatively expensive.

How much are we prepared to pay to ensure that digital content that exists today will be usable in the future? We need to think about the value of the content and decide if it is worth keeping. Determining the value can be difficult. However, "re-use is a significant benefit from preserving data and adds value." Besides economic value, there are also cultural and intellectual reasons for preserving data. An example of preservation of data from the middle ages can be seen with scribes that used wax tablets for temporary records, and parchment for permanent records.

The chances of born-digital material being usable in 100 years will be considerably improved by actively taking steps now to ensure the preservation of the items. Effective digital preservation relies on the activities of the creator as well as the archivist. It is important to make decisions about providing context, the types of formats to use, how to organize the material, and resolving rights issues to avoid future problems. 

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