A Belated Introduction

Hello, my name is Tracee Haupt. I added this class late and am still catching up, so please excuse the belatedness of my introduction post.  First, a little about me–I am in my third year of the HiLS program. I specialize in modern American history and archives and digital curation. I am also in the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture program, which means I will probably end up adding another year to my three year program. I currently work as a graduate assistant in Hornbake Library, where I help to prepare and manage digitization projects, process new collections, provide reference assistance, and participate in outreach to promote the library’s resources. I also work as a Research and Teaching Fellow at McKeldin Library, where I teach library instruction classes to English 101 students, and I just started volunteering with the DCIC’s presidential archive project.

I joined this class because I am already working with digital projects, and I know that digital preservation should be an important component of managing any type of digital collection. Practically speaking, I also frequently peruse job ads, and I know that digital preservation skills are often wanted for the type of jobs I am interested in. Moreover, I’m excited to partner with a local institution to complete the class project.

I was intrigued by the first week’s readings on the possibility of the “Digital Dark Age.” As others have pointed out, the BBC article may have presented an overly pessimistic view by describing the problems of digital preservation without also offering a full account of the people and institutions who are working to solve the potential crisis. I would agree, however, that digital preservation can be “riskier” than other types of preservation. I think, for example, about my own personal archives. From my birth to about high school age, I have thick photo albums that my mother keeps in her closet that I could pull out and look at whenever I want. But right around the time my parents and I both bought digital cameras, the record becomes a lot murkier. There are pictures that I assume must be on my parent’s computers or hard drives, but I don’t know how to access them. There are also pictures I took that are on old computers or hard drives that I can’t access anymore. Some of them I think I may have inadvertently lost through computer failures or just plain sloppiness (like forgetting to transfer them or back them up). So there are entire years of my life in which I have very few, if any photographs. My photographs are not of any lasting value in the archive world, but the point I am trying to make is that when media goes from the physical to digital realm, there seems to be a lot more opportunities to make mistakes or allow items to slip through the cracks. Physical objects are also liable to become obsolete (VHS tapes, for instance), but I find that they are more likely to stick around and not get lost than the digital files I have. Do people agree or disagree that physical objects seem to have more “staying power”?

 

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