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Dead medium: Internet Archival Issues Part Three
From: (Bruce Sterling)
Source(s): "Archiving the Internet" by Brewster Kahle

"Preservation of our Digital History

"Where we can read the 400 year-old books printed by Gutenberg, it is often difficult to read a 15 year-old computer disk. The Commission for Preservation and Access in Washington DC has been researching the thorny problems faced trying to ensure the usability of the digital data over a period of decades. Where the Internet Archive will move the data to new media and new operating systems every 10 years, this only addresses part of the problem of preservation. (((bruces remarks: I'd love to know how librarians plan to move all the shareware and freeware reams of multi-platform software on the Internet into "new operating systems.")))

"Using the saved files in the future may require conversion to new file formats. Text, images, audio, and video are undergoing changes at different rates. Since the World Wide Web currently has most of its textual and image content in only a few formats, we hope that it will be worth translating in the future, whereas we expect that the short lived or seldom used formats not be worth the future investment. Saving the software to read discarded formats often poses problems of preserving or simulating the machines that they ran on.

"The physical security of the data must also be considered. Natural and political forces can destroy the data collected. Political ideologies change over time making what was once legal becomes illegal." (((Not to mention all the stuff on the Internet that's *already* illegal.)))

"We are looking for partners in other geographic and national locations to provide a robust archive system over time. To give some level of security from commercial forces that might want exclusive access to this archive, the data is donated to a special non-profit trust for long-term care taking. This non-profit organization is endowed with enough money to perform the necessary maintenance on the storage media over the years."