Digital Preservation Fallacies and Good Things from the Smithsonian

Yes, the posts seem to be coming fast and furious these days. If you missed yesterday’s post about Flickr, you should really go back and read it. I love that story.

I think everyone should take a look at “Excuse Me… Some Digital Preservation Fallacies,” an article posted at Ariadne back in 2006 that people have been writing about on Twitter lately. In it the author argues that the following commonly-held beliefs are fallacies:

1. Digital preservation is very expensive [because]
2. File formats become obsolete very rapidly [which means that]
3. Interventions must occur frequently, ensuring that continuing costs remain high.
4. Digital preservation repositories should have very long timescale aspirations,
5. ‘Internet-age’ expectations are such that the preserved object must be easily and instantly accessible in the format de jour, and
6. the preserved object must be faithful to the original in all respects.

There should be plenty of room for discussion there. Do you agree or disagree with Rusbridge’s arguments?

Also from Twitter, the bright shiny people who are working on bringing the Smithsonian into the modern age have published the “Smithsonian Institution’s Web and New Media Strategy (Version 1.0) on a wiki so that it is open to both staff and the public for discussion. This is an excellent model not only in terms of content but also process. There are people at the Smithsonian who clearly understand what that organization needs and are trying to bring that change about. One of the things that I find most valuable about this process is that they are being open about what they are doing and are trying to engage interested audiences in the conversation. If only we could see this kind of willingness to be open, change, and collaborate with stakeholders from our colleagues at the National Archives. I am optimistic that under the leadership of new Archivist David Ferriero we may see NARA evolve into an organization where initiatives of this kind are possible.

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