Digging Up Bits of the Past: Hands-on With Obsolescence, by Richard Entlich – Cornell University (rge1@cornell.edu), Ellie Buckley – Cornell University (elb34@cornell.edu) in RLG Diginews, http://digitalarchive.oclc.org/da/ViewObject.jsp?objid=0000070519&reqid=4345 accessed 24 Dec 07.

“In fact, the paucity of good exemplars, the exposure of some popular anecdotes as apocryphal, and the use of near-loss scenarios as stand-ins for actual loss have led to something of a backlash, with claims that the urgency called for by digital preservation proponents is excessive. For example, in 2003, technology writer Simson Garfinkel, writing in the MIT Technology Review, ridiculed claims of wide-scale endangerment of digital content in a piece entitled “The Myth of Doomed Data.” Garfinkel cites the heroic rescue of the BBC Domesday videodisc project as evidence, not of the need for more rigorous attention to digital preservation issues, but as proof that when the content is valuable enough, a technological fix will be found. He then offers a simple formula for eliminating future problems—use widely supported file formats and avoid file compression schemes.

More recently, in February 2006, Chris Rusbridge, director of the UK Digital Curation Centre, published a provocative article in Ariadne entitled “Excuse Me… Some Digital Preservation Fallacies?” in which he expressed skepticism that truly obsolete commercial software actually exists and issued a challenge for readers to submit bona fide examples of older consumer-oriented commercial software products where the data files are “completely inaccessible” today.

Neither author claimed that digital preservation is a non-issue, and both acknowledged that certain types of obsolescence (e.g., media formats and non-standard file formats) present more significant problems. But both asserted that the sky may not be falling quite as severely or as imminently as often depicted, particularly for commonly used media and file formats.”

So, we might be ok. Commercial market forces have done the standarisation for us.

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