jsa1.jpgArticle by Steve Bailey of JISC, in JSA vol 28 no 2, October 2007.

Bailey says that much of the debate about digi pres has been led by technical issues, such as media degradation, bitstream preservation, and emulation vs migration arguments. “Far less attention has been paid to developing technologies for deciding what of the vast volume of information we create must be kept, for what purpose, and for how long” (p119). This means that selection and appraisal becomes crucial. You would think that, in a world where massive volumes of information are created, the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff woud be valued, but this does not seem to be the case. Indeed the trend seems to be to keep everything, and Google for what you want, rather than classify and file. Bailey suggests that this sounds the death-knell for EDRM systems.

He also points out that archivists have long had a problem with physical preservation anyway. Paper and parchment preservation problems are dealt with by conservators, not by archivists, few of whom understand the hard science of the subject. And even before e-records were invented archivists had decided to deal with non-direct media, such as video or sound recordings, by treating them as “special collections” cases. “Digital records are perhaps the latest and most extreme example of our reluctance to get our professional hands dirty (p119).” The difference now is that digital records are simply too ubiquitous for archivists to fob off onto someone else.

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