Join the Preservation Army

For the last 10 years the digital preservation community has painstakingly attempted to gather together information on digital file formats. This has led to the development of many registries, databases and silos of information. These efforts have been a great success in many communities but the number of people involved is still too few to achieve critical mass… until now.

In July of 2012, Jason Scott of the Archive Team decided that the problem was important enough to propose the idea of “Just Solve The Problem Month”, with the very first topic being file formats, both physical and digital.

In the last couple centuries, we’ve created a number of self-encapsulated data sets, or “files”. Be they letters, programs, tapes, stamped foil, piano rolls, you name it. And while many of those data sets are self-evident, a f*!k-ton are not. They’re obscure. They’re weird. And worst of all, many of them are the vital link to scores of historical information. Everyone knows this problem. It’s why old novelists cry they can’t pull their first novel out of Wordperfect. It’s why someone who used U-matic tapes to record the first meetings of a famous protest group goes “oh well”. It’s why, in all things, someone looks at anything older than five years, and goes “bye”, figuring there’s nothing they can do. And I’ve had to listen to the mewings about this problem for at least 20 years now, in various forms. A lot. And then the person lights up about maybe solving this problem, and then dims and says “well, we can’t really solve the problem”. Because they know – it’d take an army of people to do it. Let’s make that goddamned army!

– Jason Scott, Archive Team


The digital preservation community should see this as a call-to-arms on four accounts:

  1. We MUST join this army and provide the raw data on the different file formats (not just copy the data in PRONOM).
  2. We MUST make the first “Just Solve The Problem Month” a great success. It should build a bigger community of activists and lead to future months where we can solve more of the great digital problems.
  3. We MUST adopt and take care of ALL the resulting data and linked resources.
  4. We MUST demonstrate the real value of this effort to the army of people who contributed or allowed time for their workforce to contribute.


Do your bit for Preservation

By davetaz, posted in davetaz's Blog

1st Nov 2012  12:32 PM  11654 Reads  No comments


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