PBS special: Knowledge Preservation in the Electronic Age

Deborah Woodyard Dwoodyar at nla.gov.au
Fri Dec 19 00:46:53 EST 1997

Unfortunately due to location (Australia) I am unlikely to ever see this
production, but even the review raises some interesting points.

"Given this galloping obsolescence, it seems ironic that the film's
creators should have devoted a significant part of its time to the
digitising of paper archives"

It is not only the film's creators that appear to have devoted
significant time and effort to the digitising of paper archives. The
vast majority of "digital preservation" projects are actually concerned
with creating digital objects rather than preserving ones that already
exist or finding ways to extend the life of those being created. And,
yes, this does seem ironic to me. Digital replicas are useful in their
own right but how many can we guarantee to last for longer than a paper
original?  Hardly any.

As far as preserving material which appears on the internet is

"... so even a single snapshot of the trillion or more bytes available
on the Web would take weeks of computer and network time." ...  " By the
time information has gone from here to there, it is already out of date.

Not everything on the internet is worth keeping, but surely some of it
is. We should not give up because it looks like a big job, and the fact
that it becomes out of date in a wink is valid but irrelevant. 

Sounds like a thought provoking show anyhow. I'd like to hear further
discussion especially after a few more people have seen it.

Deborah Woodyard
Electronic Preservation
National Library of Australia
Canberra, ACT 2600
Ph:  +61  2  6262 1366
fax: +61  2  6257 1703
email: dwoodyar at nla.gov.au

Opinions expressed above are mine and do not necessarily reflect those
of my employer (but I hope they wouldn't argue).


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