Digital Preservation for the Future

Again, I realized my ignorance after reading “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era” by Roy Rozenzweig.

Rozenzweig explains the difficulties of digital preservation (such as challenges in authenticity and ownership) and the possible methodologies of saving digital records and information in the future.

What struck me most about this article was his argument on how most historians are unaware of this problem. On the other hand, he mentions that archivists and librarians have been discussing about digitization and digital preservation for more than a decade. We, historians, realize neither the abundant information that exist nor the ways to preserve them. 

And because historians haven’t thought about this issue seriously, Rozenzweig points out the lack of our involvement in this conversation. He says that historians “continue to insist that a perfect plan — or at least a pretty good plan — will emerge” and tend to believe preserving digital materials is “a theoretical and technical issue, tomorrow’s problem or at least someone else’s problem.” (Yep, that’s me.)

To make more historians aware of this issue, Rozenzweig suggested for their active participation with the archivist and librarians when deciding “priorities in digital preservation.” Otherwise, we would face with a scarcity of information, and “not an overabundance.”

I was embarrassed with how little I act in the present for the “futures of the past.”

Now, that I’ve learned the importance of historians working with archivist and solving problems on digital preservation, I am curious about the role of historians. What kind of contributions can we make in the discussion?

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