Preservation in the digital age
In this paper, I will examine Preservation in the Digital Age from two different viewpoints, two sides of a coin if you will. The first side will be an examination of the expanded opportunities offered to the field of preservation/conservation utilizing the new technologies of digitization and imaging. The flip side of that coin and my second approach will be to look at the preservation technology itself and what issues it raises about its own preservation needs. My perspective on this topic is a personal one based primarily on my own experience in building a virtual archive. There is no long term preservation standard for digital materials. What is needed is a change in thinking, in our perception of what is truly archival. Is it the physical disk, whether that physical disk is a hard disk, an optical disk, a CD-ROM, or is it the electronic byte of information that merely changes format? We have come to realize that it is the latter - an electronic byte of information that merely changes format. This means we must be diligent in our efforts to track and maintain current formats for all our archival digitized information, at least until a long term preservation standard emerges and I say that "until" without much confidence because the reality is constant evolution in this area.