The Question of Preservation

The idea of preservation is a difficult one. Something that does not seem to be touched on in the readings I have done so far is what should be preserved. There seems to be a push to preserve everything that is produced nowadays or at least that’s the way the readings lay it out. I am not going to try answer that question but I don’t think for example preserving old websites is important and I’m sure I could cut a lot more if pushed. Considering I’m a bit of a hoarder that says a lot. As a side note I would like to acknowledge it is difficult to say what seems unimportant today may be considered crucially important tomorrow.

I’m going get away from what should be and what shouldn’t be and to focus solely on how difficult it is to preserve things. Digitisation of items is a huge leap forward and gives the possibility of not only storing things but the possibility of dissemination as well. The “White Paper” ran through the different processes of doing this but also showed the limitations of this. With technology speeding along and changing quicker than most can keep up it is difficult to design a system to store items that will still be functional in even a reasonably short period of time. I touched on the dissemination of items being crucial. Obviously some items scream out with importance that they need to be preserved but the older they are the harder it is for people to get their hands on them.
Crowd sourcing as discussed in Digital Maps Are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land by Patricia Cohen is a great idea, while the obvious restrictions are obvious to see, it can be hugely beneficial. Opening up items to be seen online for people to have access too can be hugely beneficial. I have seen this first hand through Reddit when people have a question, the online community will be able to solve any problem. It is truly remarkable. Of course in the context of transcribing it can, as pointed out lead to more work fixing mistakes in the long run.

The diary of Mary Martin is an amazing Website that has been executed remarkable. While I don’t have very much personal interest in the subject matter I can only imagine if I did how excited I would be to have it. It sets a very high benchmark for digital preservation. I think information professionals will have to work alongside computer scientists closely if the two are to understand where the other is coming from in order to create a truly worthwhile preservation system. People like me may be a bit gun-ho when it comes to what to keep and what not. While librarians may be over sensitive and it is important to find a middle ground.

As I briefly mentioned earlier we can’t possible tell today what will be useful tomorrow which is exemplified by the Patricia Cohen piece Scholars Recruit Public for Project. Which showed us what would seem like insignificant data of typography and weather conditions of long ago are actually hugely important for piecing together a jigsaw puzzle of historical importance. As important as it is to store things, the system in place is as important so people are able to discover and get access to what they need. That would be of most interest to me rather then what is and what isn’t stored.

Digital Maps Are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land By Patricia Cohen

Scholars Recruit Public for Project By Patricia Cohen

The Diary of Mary Martin

White Paper: The Long Term Preservation of Digital Information


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