Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Irony of Writing Online About Digital Preservation

The Irony of Writing Online About Digital Preservation. Meredith Broussard. The Atlantic. Nov 20, 2015.
     "Last month, The Atlantic published a lengthy article about information that is lost on the web. That story itself is in jeopardy." Article about the difficulties in preserving digital content long term, particularly from news sources that use a variety of methods and software to manage their information.  Some quotes from the article:
  • "There is no guarantee that we will be able to read today’s news on tomorrow’s computers. I’ve been studying news preservation for the past two years, and I can confidently say that most media companies use a preservation strategy that resembles Swiss cheese."
  • "News apps [interactive databases] aren’t being preserved because they are software, and software preservation is a specialized, idiosyncratic pursuit that requires more money and more specialized labor than is available at media organizations today.
  • “The challenges of maintaining digital archives over long periods of time are as much social and institutional as technological,” reads a report from 2003.
  • "When I started my research into news preservation, I thought there would be an easy technological solution. There isn’t. Every media company in the world grapples with the issue of digital archiving."
  • "Remember when Macromedia Flash was the new hot thing in journalism? Most of those elaborate Flash projects have disappeared now. They’re probably archived on Jaz drives in a storage room somewhere, next to boxes of color slides and piles of floppy disks and other outdated media. Future historians will likely lament this loss."
  • "The quantity and variety of information we now produce has outpaced our ability to preserve it for the future. Librarians are the only ones who are making sure that our collective memory is preserved. And they, along with small teams of digital historians elsewhere, are still trying to understand the scope of myriad challenges involved in modern preservation. If today’s born-digital news stories are not automatically put into library storehouses, these stories are unlikely to survive in an accessible way."
  • "The folks at the Internet Archive are thoughtful digital preservationists, and I am grateful every day for their work preserving our collective digital memory." "If I know exactly what web page I am looking for, the Internet Archive is very helpful."
  • "But if I don’t know exactly the web page that I want and exactly the day that the information appeared, I won’t be able to find the information in the Internet Archive."
  • "... we are losing digital history almost as soon as we make it.

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