An Ark Full of Books

“Technology changes, language changes, having multiple repositories is good,” one reader responded to David Streitfeld‘s interesting article, “In a Flood Tide of Digital Data, an Ark Full of Books,” in The New York Times a couple of days ago.

In this article, Streitfeld writes about the Physical Archive of the Internet Archive, founded by Brewster Kahle and located in Richmond, California. The archive is an attempt to store the 20th century in case of digital disaster – or in case digitization improves and there is a need to copy the books all over again.

As some see it, Streitfeld reports, the probability of a massive loss of digital information, and thus the potential need to redigitize things, is lower than Kahle thinks. According to Michael Lesk, former chairman of the department of library and information science at Rutgers, though, “it’s not zero.” “If serious ‘1984’-style trouble does arrive,” Streitfeld quotes Mr. Lesk as saying, it might come as “all Internet information falls under the control of either governments or copyright owners.”

How very interesting that ‘1984’-style trouble might come in the shape of either government or copyright control – and that copyright control is seen as being potentially just as much of a risk as government control!

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About the reluctant digital humanist

A humanities scholar who is interested in American history, human rights, copyright and digital humanities.
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