A deep dive into the race to preserve our digital heritage


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/15/back-up-back-up-back-up.html


And here I’ve been lamenting the loss of ephemera.


Librarians have always had a hard row to hoe with digital data.

  1. Locating it originally
  2. Determining its overall importance
  3. Storing it in a retrievable format
  4. Indexing it so it can be found and used again when needed

Election counts from the gubernatorial race are probably more important to be preserved than the sales flyer from your weekly paper (especially if the race is contested), but if you are researching trends in economics and using sales flyers to do it, that piece of data is extremely important to you.


Hal Draper had an interesting take on the idea, fifty years ago:
Ms Fnd in a Lbry


I’ve deposited three (mostly paper) collections at different archives and I’ve been told whenever we switch storage media, we lose 60 to 90 percent of what was recorded due to time constraints, disinterest and cost. From wax cylinders and glass plates to silver stock to Polaroid, most of it gone. As for storage, paper is the longest lasting media if good paper and inks were used, printer ink is crap. store your paper in acid free folders in the dark and you might get a hundred years. I’ve heard you won’t be able to look at your children’s baby photos because of rapidly moving storage issues.


But most wood-pulp paper is NOT archival. It starts turning brown and becoming brittle and that is not because of the conditions that it is stored under but because of what it is made of. I remember reading newspapers from the war of 1812, (before most paper was made from wood pulp) and they were in MUCH better condition than books from the 1940s


Okay, I saw “race” and “preserve” and “heritage” and assumed the worst.

Welcome to the 21c.


I’m gonna be the smartass dick in the room and say: “Nautilus”? Isn’t it the Hermit Crab that continually upscales its shell while the nautilus continues to enlarge its own existing structure in a satisfyingly fibonacci kinda way?

my work here is done


/Breaks out Kansas on cassette (yes, I still play cassette tapes)

…Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind…


Another case where new didn’t mean improved.


Thanks for the link to the Hal Draper story. It seems familiar in tone, but the details do not, but if I read it it was likely in an anthology about 4 decades ago or so.


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