Digital Heritage: Is It Worth Preserving?

This by Jeroen van Rijn article discusses whether on-line digital content is worth preserving as an archival activity in its own right.  As well as the question about the significance of maintaining content (much of which may not have any apparent current value) the privacy issue is also considered.  Jeroen describes some case studies archiving Google Video, Friendster and Geocities:

Now you may ask yourself is Friendster (or even GeoCities) worth saving? Answering that question purely myself, I’d say no, but I have no connection with those sites. Looking at the question however from the perspective of people who have spent many hours building these profiles and interacting with each other, I can see there’s clearly value there to those who used them. Answering instead as someone with a deep interest in history, it’s not for us to say what will eventually prove worth saving. Instead, that’s something for the historians, archeologists, sociologists and other interested parties in the future to decide. But they can’t do that if the information isn’t even there..” [Read More]

6 key questions are asked:

  • Should our digital culture should be better preserved?
  • Should we have identical copies of content in different locations to reduce the risk of it being lost?
  • What would such a world-wide archival effort look like, technologically?
  • What should we do about copyrights and patents?
  • How do we go about archiving software for a computer to preserve interactive access?
  • What about the proliferation of file formats? Do we transform everything into a canonical form where we can, or do we store the original along with software to interpret?

The last one is of key significance for DAM , the proliferation formats both creates an opportunity and a complication for DAM solutions.  It must be asked how long consumers will be willing to put up with re-purchasing the same content numerous times because of format changes and what happens in the consumer market typically filters through to businesses once the technology has become sufficiently commoditisied to justify the ROI.



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