Saturday, February 14, 2015

Archiving Digital Data

My comments in response to Maintaining Your Digital Presence Is More Than Updating Your Status

This is an important topic and well suited to the Smithsonian :-) Many people don't realize how ephemeral are digital media is. It is much easier to view photos from the 1970s than images from the 1990s (that are probably locked on some hard drive or floppy disk or zip disk [remember those].

Web sites close down and go out of business. Trusting them with your history is unwise. Sharing it there is fine but you can't rely it will be their for your kids. The internet archive (wayback machine) is pretty awesome and seems likely to survive but...

The issue which most quickly causes problems is changing tech standards. But tech media are also unreliable for long term (hard drives... are not nearly as long lasting as high quality paper). Certain archival DVDs (gold plated) do last a while hopefully but even then paper last longer. It seems rewriting electronic data from one place to another is fairly good, but it is not perfect (basically you keep moving so avoid one drive failing after 10 years).

Dealing with electronic records is obviously going to be a big job for places like the Smithsonian going forward.

Related: Photo Management and Web Gallery Creation Software - Don't Lock Your Content Inside a Proprietary System - Internet Archive of this site from 2006 (sadly the next record they have is 2011 for some reason. To some extent I think they maintain more copies of popular sites, but even so most of my sites have several captures a year) - backups on the wayback machine from 1997 to today

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