Moderator: Jack Kessler, Consultant, AKCO Inc.
Patricia McClung described the variety of ongoing projects, acknowledging that there is a paradigm shift underway, but observing that we seem to be, "stuck in an endless purgatory between our analog past and digital future". The immediate problem, she said, is the inadequacy of changing hardware and software. Her concern is that, as this problem is addressed, some understanding of the importance of preservation issues not be lost in the discussion: there must be recognition of the need for balancing preservation and access. She challenged the other speakers, contending that, "long - term preservation of information in digital form is not yet possible".
Barclay Ogden countered by observing that we already do digital
preservation: "look at any online catalog", he said. The question is
whether we are doing it well. He said that digital technology is just
another medium, for which there are analogs in previous media and their
preservation efforts. There are two ways to think about digital
preservation, he believes:
Helene Whitson described the problems of preserving modern media. Her video archives are "equipment - dependent", she said: not only do media deteriorate, but so do the machines for viewing them, and the computer programs for organizing them, and there is little money available for preservation. Society has not yet realized the importance of non - print media as an archival record, she feels, and there is grave danger of losing that record now.
Geoffrey Nunberg summarized by observing that libraries still are the testbed for the Digital Library. Eco's question is timely, he said: "where does the archive begin?" is a question of great importance -- what to preserve and how to preserve it. "Intelligence must be distinguished from information", he observed: tools must be developed to assist in this. Both preservation and access are issues which must be better - defined for the digital age.
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