From Listserve Jan 07 ppp1.jpg

“DigitalPreservationEurope is pleased to announce the release of the second in a series of thought provoking and controversial position papers on a range of issues surrounding digital preservation, ‘So Where is the Black Hole in our Collective Memory?’. It is our intention that these papers will promote vigorous debate within the digital preservation community and encourage people to think about digital preservation in new and innovative ways by exploring and challenging the received wisdom.

Harvey’s position paper asks important questions: Have the digital preservation community cried wolf too often? Are our strident, alarmist proclamations about the loss of digital materials too extreme? He argues that our inability to bring evidence to bear in support of such claims leave us exposed and easily overlooked.

You can comment on this paper and the issues it raises by joining the debate in the DPE forum by visiting here.

You can also access the position paper by visiting here.”

Alan’s thoughts

The paper comes out with the standard revisionist line, ie that examples of data loss are in fact examples of near data loss, or indeed data recovery. Useful to have a summary of the Usual Suspects: Viking lander (data recovered), BBC Domesday (data recovered), first email [AA who cares?], first website [AA ditto], 1960 US census data (data recovered). I have my own experience of this with FIF images.

The paper however does not mention that these data archaeology projects were expensive: good digital preservation policies would have prevented the data from becoming endangered in the first place. Moreover, these were all successful data projects. I wonder if there are examples out of there where the data archaeology was left too long?