I’m so vain. I’m going to print this off and store it in a lead-lined box. I can only anticipate the delight of future historians who will discover its preserved remains – reputations will be made, careers built, all on the back of a blog post circa 2013.
You see we can’t assume that those who create content will preserve it – I wrote this blog, but if I took it down tomorrow it simply wouldn’t exist. Are you preserving your web pages, podcasts and video streams for future generations? Will you maintain content that has outlived its original purpose? Should you? If not, who will?
Personally, I wouldn’t want to be the British Library, who this week committed to storing every UK website ever.
I worry. What happens when they change the format? Which they always do. If we’d switched to Digital Audio Tape (DAT) as a medium we’d be stuffed, yet it was once considered to be the universal standard for recording. It’s also outdated, along with floppy disks and cassette tapes.
Today, if it was born digital and stored digitally, it risks being lost. Previously different formats would have existed – the original music recorded on an 8-track master tape as well as the reproduced vinyl; the typed pages of the proofs as well as the printing plates and published books.
In The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR) 2010 report looked at the long term survival of sound recording history. And predicted a whole new industry springing up to meet the need to harvest ephemeral content and preserve it forever. We don’t have specialists, yet, who can store content in a way that makes it easily searchable or even agreement on a universal set of standards.
“Another website to put with all the others” says the delivery man. The harried looking woman turns away from trying to find the exact place where Twitter responded to news of Thatcher’s death.
And at that moment, the door bursts open, and an academic stumbles in.
“I’ve found it!” he says, briefly waving what looks to be an old Quality Street tin in the air, before sinking to his knees. “The long lost blog post of 2013. This completes the collection!”
For dear reader, in the absence of a lead-lined box, a Quality Street tin will have to do the job of preserving these words for posterity.
But tell me, what do you think?