Digitization

October 30, 2006

This week’s readings were among the most readily applicable of those I’ve seen to date.  The information regarding image resolution I was able to put into practice immediately, with the result being some high-quality images embedded in one of my presentations at work.  I’ve been a casual user of MS Paint and other similar programs before to modify images for presentations, but I didn’t know much of the theory behind bitmaps, jpegs and tiffs.  The second chapter on preserving digital history was less readily applicable.  The object lesson on the My History Is America’s History website seem to me to be one of carelessness or even negligence on the part of the webmasters, not a lesson about the fragility of digital records.  Like most people who work on computers, I have lost files in mid-stride and have had to recreate, restore and salvage, so the concept of digital fragility and the need for frequent backups isn’t new.  I did like the phrase regarding the possibility of saving all information as “destroy[ing] one of the pillars of archiving—that some things are worth saving due to a perceived importance, whereas other things can be lost to time with few repercussions.”  We as historians are at a crossroads.  In the past there were not enough resources to archive everything that needed to be preserved, so certain valuable items were lost.  Now, there are more than enough resources to archive and the danger is losing the valuable items behind terabytes of junk.  Either way, items are lost.

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