Introductory Blog Post

Hi, (I hope I posted this in the right place!)

My name is Maggie McCready and I’m starting my second year in the MLIS program at UMD. I wanted to take this class because I feel like digital preservation isn’t something I know enough about. Most of the archives I have worked in are still focused upon addressing “analog” records, and throw around “digitization” as a buzz word to sound forward thinking but are really only approaching digitization from a very basic standpoint. I want to learn how to actually manage digital and born digital records, and hopefully this is the right class to take for that.

 

With regard to the readings, I was super psyched to have such an approachable and straightforward introduction to the topic. I’m not very technically minded, so I’m glad the readings started off by introducing more of the concepts and issues related to digital preservation.  Prof. Owens’ 12th axiom of digital preservation (I think #12?) really hit the nail on the head for me, that “highly technical definitions of digital preservation are complicit in silencing the past”– using opaque and overly technical language to describe this really necessary process is exclusionary, making digital preservation seem like this complex and lofty goal that no small institution can ever achieve. I appreciate that Professor Owens has stated this so plainly in our first reading and I’m hopeful that means this course will be taught with this in mind.

The following readings that covered the Digital Dark age reminded me a lot of discussions I’ve heard about the “period of catastrophic loss” projected to happen within the next ten years for magnetic audiovisual materials. I completely disagree with the article by Lyons “There Will Be No Digital Dark Age”, like sure, dude, archivists are aware that we need to save this stuff and sure we’re trying but the digital dark age is a very real thing that’s already happening.  I think Kuny and Tansey address it well, recognizing that institutions can and do interfere with the preservation of their records in order to control the way they are remembered, sometimes purposefully deleting records, but also there is a general disinterest amongst records creators with digital preservation. Obsolescence is also a huge issue, with new formats for storage being produced constantly, we are already having problems with accessing files on floppy discs, Jazz drives, etc.

I did appreciate Vint Cerf and Kuny’s argument for preserving the digital environment or the software in addition to a digital object in order to ensure that the file can still be read and used in its intended way. That was something I hadn’t really thought about before, because my experience with digitization so far has been with relatively simple digital objects like scanned images. Preserving complex digital objects like programs, videogames, or websites really interests me, I feel like there’s so much involved with that process and I want to understand how institutions like the internet archive, MITH, or the LGBTQ Video Game Archive are approaching preserving videogames.  I think this area in particular is something I’m really interested in.

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