This appears to be the same as the New York Times article on digital
storage cited by Andy Kolovos today.
The article serves a purpose to wake people up to the concerns, but, on
the other hand, at an institutional level, many of the challenges are being
addressed on a regular basis.
I would suggest that at least one starting point for research in this area
-- and I think it's a good deal more optimistic than the cited article --
is the work of Dr. Henry Gladney at http://home.pacbell.net/hgladney/ I
especially commend the DDQ periodical that he has published. Issue 3:3
addresses some of the "research" that is or is not needed.
One of the key issues going forward is looking at the overall picture of
information retention. To date, we have spent large sums of money on
physical space for repositories. Now, I can fit a terabyte of data in a
large shoebox. And, I can have two of those separated by an arbitrary
distance for physical diversity. Spending the money on IT infrastructure
rather than physical infrastructure may actually become a bargain.
Yes, there are many issues, but many highly intelligent people are working
at solving these for the long haul.
In the audio field, I worry far more about the playability of analog tapes
in 50-100 years than the survivability and usability of a managed digital
archive. Every storage system requires management. The shoebox of
photographs isn't any good if the roof leaks. So we'll trade large-scale
roofers for IT professionals.
While it is good to have this coverage of the issue in the mainstream press
and wake people up to the facts, well-managed archives--both personal and
institutional--are not in a "sky is falling" situation. Funding has been
and will be an issue. I'm aware of one "poster child" archive that has tens
of different videotape formats and can only play perhaps two of them. What
do you do for that archive for the long term? I see the only real long-term
answer is migration to the data domain and allowing IT professionals to
preserve that data using current industry best practices.
At 08:21 PM 11/10/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>In today`s Japan edition of the International Herald Tribune there appears
>a front-page article titled `A Preservation Jam for the Digital Age`. After
>speaking a bit about the woes of digital preservation (`no one has figured
>out how to preserve these electronic materials`; the challenge is `dire and
>complex`; storing a photograph is much simpler than storing a file of a
>photograph; etc.), comes this shocker: `Short of a clear solution, experts
>recommend that people copy their materials, which were once on vinyl, film
>and paper, to CDs and other backup formats`. ?!?!
>Hafner, Katie. `A Preservation Jam for the Digital Age`. _International
>Herald Tribune_, Nov. 11, 2004, 1, 6.