Archiving Today\'s Digital Culture

Foxnews is carrying a Story on The 10,000-year Library Conference, hosted by The Long Now Foundation and Stanford University Libraries. They discussed how today\'s archival institutions will cope with preserving multimedia content such as digital audio and video files, photography, databases, Web pages and even links to related content. They say that most libraries are making a new \"digital library\" online, to preserve the information. This of course raises many new issues... According to the experts at Long Now, while digitized media may have \"some attributes of immortality — great clarity, great universality, great reliability and great economy\" — people often find that they can\'t revisit their computer-based work from as early as ten years before.

Magnetic media, such as floppy disks and tape, lose their integrity in five to 10 years, while optical media, such as CD-ROMs, degrade in five to 15 years. In Long Now\'s view, technology is constantly self-obsolescing.

\"It turns out that what was so carefully stored was written with a now-obsolete application, in a now-obsolete operating system, on a long-vanished make of computer, using a now-antique storage medium. The great creator becomes the great eraser,\" writes Stewart Brand, co-chairman of the Long Now board, in his article \"Written on the Wind\" (first published in Civilization Magazine, November 1998).

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