An Internet Archivist, Lost Data, and Preservation Planning

This story is actually a really good idea. As a Certified Digital Information Manager, with a love for archives and history, I can really see the potential for the loss of our collective memory. Think about it… When was the last time you read a book or even wrote a letter? These days, our lives are entangled by bits, bytes and radio waves. Nothing is really solid, like a book. We can no longer feel our letters or photos. They disappear into oblivion once we “shut down.” Well unless hackers are peering into our content I guess.. Ahhh- always playing devil’s advocate! But really- there are programs out there to assist us with the preservation of media rich web sites with dynamic content, but the specialists are few and far between. What if we are only capturing 1% of our history? What will social scientists, historians, genealogists, and other researchers learn about us on that 1% 200 years from now? Not much! If we don’t preserve data, it will disappear or we will be unable to access it.

Today I struggled with one of my many computers. I set up an old Pentium II (G6) for my son to learn on. I wanted to pull priceless data off that machine before I turned a five year old loose on the operating system. Yes I did say priceless. To my surprise, there were photos of at least seven people I have lost (in death) on that hard drive. I cried and was touched when I looked at them. It had been at least five years since I fired up that OS. The good news was it turned on, and there was no obvious data loss. The problem is that I waited to long to pull the data off. Me? I can’t believe I didn’t migrate my own data!!! Unfortunately, about fifty of my USB drives were not compatible with the machine, and the drivers wouldn’t work. The DVD-RW drive was not compatible with the new DVD-RWs, or two different software packages I had on there to burn discs. The firewire I had didn’t work, I couldn’t connect my laptop to the hard drive. Well come hell or high water, I will get to that data, just not tonight!

Anyhow- my point is, data is at risk- it has been for decades, but today, we are producing so much more in a virtual environment. It is still important to remember to hit “print” when one of every fifty photos in your digital stacks, capture your grandma who just passed away, or there is a letter from your brother who was or is overseas at war, or there is a digitized note that someone special wrote you years ago (and now she is gone, and you have no clue what happened to the original). The second entry below has a tutorial for an excellent start in regard to digital preservation (Cornell University). Oh yeah- and hey when you go out to the store in the morning, why don’t you go for the real book, instead of the e-reader version? Just a thought!

Internet Archivist Seeks 1 of Every Book

Associated Press
August 1, 2011 (AP)

Tucked away in a small warehouse on a dead-end street, an Internet pioneer is building a bunker to protect an endangered species: the printed word. Brewster Kahle, 50, founded the nonprofit Internet Archive in 1996 to save a copy of every Web page ever posted. Now the MIT-trained computer scientist and entrepreneur is expanding his effort to safeguard and share knowledge by trying to preserve a physical copy of every book ever published.


Digital Preservation Management Workshops and Tutorial

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is pleased to be the host institution for the Digital Preservation Management Workshop and Tutorial. This expanded program is based on the workshop curriculum initially developed at Cornell University and supported with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).


Explore posts in the same categories: Archival Science, Books, Digital Issues, Edification, News, Technology, Tutorials

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