For the purpose of recording and preserving history so that future generations can access and interpret the information, which is more secure? A written, printed, physical record or a digital record? What else must be considered?


2 thoughts on “Discussion: Preserving History

  1. Actually, a combination is probably needed. Heck, I found some old backup floppies that were 15 years old, and even after getting a drive to read them, I was only able to recover about 1/3rd of the information on those discs. And they were stored well – Static sleeves inside a static-resistant plastic box inside a well-padded box.

    All forms of data storage are subject to entropy, so its probably best to use multiple kinds of media followed with ‘half-life’ upgrading – Moving the data to a new media (either brand-new form of current media or recording it on whatever the ‘new’ media format is) at about one-half the time of expected durablity of the former media.

    Probably the biggest enemy of historical data is more sociological than mechanical. The second something becomes ‘unneeded’ (“We don’t need that in our history books.” or “We’ve only got so much space – We need to get rid of things that aren’t vital anymore.”) is when history is lost.


  2. As a museum board member, preserving and protecting historical documents is key to our site. We have museum quality storage containers, use acid free paper, and even have a freezer to keep bugs out of old documents. As I see in the other posting, we do use scanners to preserve the information digitally, however we also have the originals in storage archives in case they are needed for research or later follow up and review.
    One of the most critical issues is the preservation of the preserved material. As you would expect, we have a large storage need for originals, but also to store the CDs, DVDs, movies, tapes, books, pictures, and audio tapes, not to mention the larger archived items such as doors to the post office and war memorial items.


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