Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What if...a digital dark age?

I've written a fair number of blog posts of digital preservation and none talk about the preservation of digital materials without the use of technology. Our "bet" is that technology is here to stay. If past events can predict future performance, then our history tells us that our technology will continue to become more advanced. However, the use of materials on our planet is changing. Will those of us who have been used to unlimited electricity, for example, continue to be able afford it? And will the electricity be there? How "preserved" are our digital assets if they cannot be used due to periods of darkness?

I am not predicting a digital dark age. Nor am I saying that we should not digitize because we have a fragile infrastructure. If we limited what we all did because we felt the future was uncertain, we'd never do anything. But I do hope that somewhere someone is working through scenarios and thinking about what we'll need in order to bring our digital assets back to life should a period of darkness occur. (Will they require some special care?)

Yes, a deep thought on the day after Earth Day. A day on which I drove too much, because taking public transportation was not an option. A day where I saw gas prices over $3.70/gallon. A day where I participated on a panel about technology (blogging), while the sun was setting over the lake, reminding us that technology isn't everything.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jill, thank you for posting these thoughts. I often think about this issue. I think most people equate oil consumption with travel, but in fact oil is a huge consideration for powering our buildings, making food, etc. Should gas shortages occur, essential services would need to receive precedence; we'd need to make sure that police, firetrucks and ambulances, not to mention transportation of goods, is adequately supplied. I don't know that libraries would receive similar precedence in the situation you describe, since physical primary materials may still be present. Digitization has not led to destruction of books as many originally feared years ago, but this is another good argument for continued physical preservation. -Ben