Digital archivists: technological custodians of human history

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/05/digital-archivists-technological-custodians-of-human-history/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed: arstechnica/index (Ars Technica - All content)

Digital archivists should read this Ars Technica article, via infoneer-pulse:

Game creator Jordan Mechner wanted to teach the next generation. So the man behind the groundbreaking 1989 Apple II game Prince of Persia recently posted his original 6052 assembly source code to Github. But getting the code from decades-old floppy disks “covered with dust” was no simple task. Mechner employed the services of vintage computer expert Tony Diaz and digital archivist Jason Scott to extract the bits from the floppies and assemble it into a readable code file.

Without Diaz and Scott, Mechner’s code could’ve been lost forever. The exact methods he used to create this landmark game would have become as obsolete as the 1976 technology it was played on.

But old source code isn’t the only cultural artifact that requires specialized knowledge to preserve. As paper and dyes deteriorate, acetate degenerates, and the minute magnetic flux recorded in analog tape fades with the ages, how do we preserve cultural artifacts like photographs, music, and film? And what of more modern digitally created media? Images and video are shot directly in digital formats and stored on flash media. Music is recorded in 24-bit, 192kHz digital resolution onto massive hard drives. All these files exist in various codecs, formats, and file systems; on spinning magnetic platters or in solid state NAND flash. How do we preserve these files for future reference, study, and appreciation?

» via ars technica