Tags: archives

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Human Document Project 2017

A conference in my old stomping grounds of Freiburg on archives, preservation, and long-term thinking:

It will present the state of art in long-term archiving as well as the present problems in preservation of information and scientific data in archives and libraries. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that, since all conceivable systems are finite but can be quite large, a choice on the contents has to be made. This requires thinking of the human condition: Who we are, what we are and what do we find worth to preserve.

The Lost Picture Show: Hollywood Archivists Can’t Outpace Obsolescence - IEEE Spectrum

There are three parts to digital preservation: format, medium, and licensing. Film and television archives are struggling with all three.

Format:

Codecs—the software used to compress and decompress digital video files—keep changing, as do the hardware and software for playback.

Medium:

As each new generation of LTO comes to market, an older generation of LTO becomes obsolete. LTO manufacturers guarantee at most two generations of backward compatibility. What that means for film archivists with perhaps tens of thousands of LTO tapes on hand is that every few years they must invest millions of dollars in the latest format of tapes and drives and then migrate all the data on their older tapes—or risk losing access to the information altogether.

Licensing:

Studios didn’t see any revenue potential in their past work. They made money by selling movie tickets; absent the kind of follow-on markets that exist today, long-term archiving didn’t make sense economically.

It adds up to a potential cultural disaster:

If technology companies don’t come through with a long-term solution, it’s possible that humanity could lose a generation’s worth of filmmaking, or more.

The Last 100 Days, the Next 100 Years

Cancelling the future.

The future lives and dies by the state of the archives. To look hard at this world and honestly, diligently articulate what happened and what it was like in the present is a sort of promise to the future, a new layer to the palimpsest of history that can become someone else’s foundation.

DRM for the Web is a Bad Idea | Internet Archive Blogs

The Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) addition to HTML is effectively DRM with the blessing of the W3C. It’s bad for accessibility, bad for usability, bad for security, and as the Internet Archive rightly points out, it’s bad for digital preservation.

The Digital Transition: How the Presidential Transition Works in the Social Media Age | whitehouse.gov

Kori Schulman describes the archiving of social media and other online artefacts of the outgoing US president. It’s a shame that a lot of URLs will break, but I’m glad there’s going to be a public backup available.

Best of all, you can get involved:

In the interim, we’re inviting the American public – from students and data engineers, to artists and researchers – to come up with creative ways to archive this content and make it both useful and available for years to come. From Twitter bots and art projects to printed books and query tools, we’re open to it all.

Persistent Domains by Tim Berners-Lee

This sixteen year old cool URI has not changed. I think this idea of domains entering an archive state is worth pursuing.

Also, I love the science fictional footnote “Note for readers after 2100”.

Archiving a Website for Ten Thousand Years - The Atlantic

Prompted by the way Craig is handling the shutdown of hi.co, Glenn Fleishman takes a look at other digital preservation efforts and talk to Laura Welcher at the Long Now Foundation.

A time capsule is bottled optimism. It makes material the belief that human beings will survive long enough to retrieve and decode artifacts of the distant past.

The Internet Archive—Bricks and Mortar Version - Scientific American Blog Network

A profile of the Internet Archive, but this time focusing on its physical space.

The Archive is a third place unlike any other.

Messages to the Future, by Heather Ryan · The Manual

History, as the future will know it, is happening today on the web. And so it is the web that we must capture, package, and preserve for future generations to see who we are today.

Digital archivists run up against mismatched expectations:

But did you know that a large majority of web users think that when sharing their thoughts, images, and videos online they are going to be preserved in perpetuity? No matter how many licenses the general population clicks “Agree” to, or however many governing policies are developed that state the contrary, the millions of people sharing their content on websites still believe that there is an implicit accountability that should be upheld by the site owners.

Eternal 5D data storage could record the history of humankind

360 terabytes of data stored for over 13 billion years:

Coined as the ‘Superman memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

#nodigitaldarkage? — Blog of the Long Now

A note of optimism for digital preservation:

Where a lack of action may have been more of the case in the 01990s, it is certainly less so today. In the early days, there were just a handful of pioneers talking about and working on digital preservation, but today there are hundreds of tremendously intelligent and skilled people focused on preserving access to the yottabytes of digital cultural heritage and science data we have and will create.

oldweb.today

Such a vividly nostalgic project. Choose an obsolete browser. Enter a URL. Select which slice of the past you want to see.

Digital archives in action. Access drives preservation.

What Happens to Grantland’s Archives? - The Atlantic

Had anyone from the archive been in touch with ESPN? Was there any hope that the treasured collection of Grantland stories might remain accessible?

“We don’t ‘get in touch,’” Jason Scott, a digital historian at the Internet Archive, told me in an email. “We act.”

The Utopia Of Records: Why Sound Archiving Is Important

The significant challenges in archiving audio.

The Internet’s Dark Ages - The Atlantic

The promise of the web is that Alexandria’s library might be resurrected for the modern world. But today’s great library is being destroyed even as it is being built.

A fascinating account of one story’s linkrot that mirrors the woeful state of our attitude to cultural preservation on the web.

Historians and digital preservationists agree on this fact: The early web, today’s web, will be mostly lost to time.

adactio’s jams | This Is My Jam

I absolutely love the way that my archive is presented here. Matt and Hannah have set the bar in how to shut down a service in an honest, dignified way.

(Xrisk 101): Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates | Heath Rezabek - Academia.edu

Exemplars proposing various solutions for the resilience of digital data and computation over long timeframes include the Internet Archive; redundantly distributed storage platforms such GlusterFS, LOCKSS, and BitTorrent Sync; and the Lunar supercomputer proposal of Ouliang Chang.

Each of these differs in its approach and its focus; yet each shares with Vessel and with one another a key understanding: The prospects of Earth-originating life in the future, whether vast or diminishing, depend upon our actions and our foresight in this current cultural moment of opportunity, agency, awareness, ability, capability, and willpower.

‘That pig was a good influence’ with Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman on Unfinished Business on Huffduffer

I had a lot of fun recording this episode with Andrew and Jeffrey. It is occasionally surreal.

Stick around for the sizzling hot discussion of advertising at the end in which we compare and contrast Mad Men and Triumph Of The Will.

Archives in the Digital Age

I’m going to be taking part in a discussion upstairs in The Eagle in Brighton on May 14th, all about digital preservation. I think it’s going to be really fun. It’s free—you should come along.

js;dr = JavaScript required; Didn’t Read.

Because in 10 years nothing you built today that depends on JS for the content will be available, visible, or archived anywhere on the web.