Change management

Coming Days of Digital Darkness: Who’s In Charge of Preservation?

Dr. Vint Cerf’s keynote at the AAUP Annual Meeting underlined the criticality of digital preservation, noting how vulnerable our civilization has become as we race to the cloud, no strategy in place to preserve the recorded thoughts, ideas, art and information that we all generate, and which we’ve inherited from generations past. Our collective preservation strategy needs to include that which we can see and find on the Web, and also that which we cannot see: the dark web, the databases lurking invisible behind firewalls, vast numbers of videos unindexed, unfindable, the personal palimpsests of Facebook, Twitter, email programs, SalesForce, personal documents —  in fact, all application-enabled data that could turn dark, during a cloud burst when commonly shared applications disappear! Or when things otherwise change…

Dr. Cerf pointed to the Olive Archive, an emulator project at CMU, which aims to preserve not only data itself, but emulations of the hardware, operating systems, and application environments that enable access to that data. This is a solid step towards preservation of our rapidly changing recorded culture, worth exploring and supporting!  And Dr. Cerf went on to underline the importance of netizens working today to establish policies for the preservation and archiving of our digital civilization. But who’s responsible? Authors? Publishers? Libraries? Governments? Fort Knox? You? Me? As a matter of political policy we need to tend to digital preservation now,  for technology cannot save itself.

Leave a Reply