[APG Public List] Saving Our Data from Digital Decay

Amy Crow amy at amyjohnsoncrow.com
Sat Nov 20 19:38:27 MST 2010

Interesting, though not terribly original. People have been proposing digital-to-analog as a preservation method for some time. It sounds tempting, but it is not without its own set of problems. Digital-to-analog might work to some degree for some documents, you would lose valuable metadata and context for others. A relational database, for example, would not translate onto microfilm very well. Neither would spreadsheets. Yes, you would have the numbers, but you would not be able to see the underlying formulas. What about emails (perhaps one of the most ephemeral "formats" we have right now)? How do you capture the header, beyond the "To," "From," "Date" and "Subject." What about text that is actually a hyperlink? In the email that started this thread, the URL to the article is legible, but what if it had ben an embedded link (for example, if the link was under "a guy in Germany" and you couldn't visually see the URL just by reading the email)? 

Space is another consideration. Think about all of the documents we create every day (including these emails). Can you imagine how much microfilm it would take to store all of them -- or even a fraction of them? 

Digital-to-analog might be an option for some very specific things, but it isn't practical as a long-term preservation method for the bulk of our digital records.

Amy Johnson Crow, CG,
Reynoldsburg, Ohio

On Nov 20, 2010, at 8:06 PM, Sarah A. V. Kirby wrote:

> An interesting article - a guy in Germany is proposing using microfilm to archive digital data because of it's shelf-life and the fact that you don't need to keep migrating the file (format or media).
> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116072749.htm
> --------------------

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