The Digitisation Dilemma: Retain Or Dump Analogue Assets?

Philip Spiegel writing on DAM Ideas proposes that we may now be coming to the stage where it is appropriate to no longer retain or preserve physical or analogue assets after they have been digitised:

I think the freedom from the physical video media and analog world that comes from the digitization  outweighs the insecurity that can come from not having the physical master.  And for context. I’ve lived in both worlds and have argued passionately in the past against the notion I am proposing now but I recognize that times change.  At this point, I would rather have the media as 1’s and 0’s contained, managed and supported within established IT backup and migration protocols than shelves of slowly decomposing videotape reliant on nearly obsolete machines.” [Read More]

One of the arguments frequently made against destroying original assets is that digital formats are often likely to decay faster than physical assets because of deterioration of the transfer medium (e.g. CD-ROMs) or the digital file format becoming obsolete and unsupported by current software.  However, these reasons are essentially modern manifestations of the original problem – that the storage media will always decay, irrespective of what it is.  From my experience, it tends to be rare to re-digitise from an original master once this has been done once (unless the fist solution was considered a failure), however, data migration is a consistent feature of nearly all DAM projects.

Perhaps what this discussion highlights more than anything is the need for a continuous Digital Asset Management and Digital Preservation strategy that recognises this as an ongoing issue and builds in regular reviews of the storage methods for preserved analogue assets to ensure they remain accessible.

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