Digital records ‘obscure the past’. BBC News has an excellent story on the problems of digital archiving. Well worth reading, as it raises some fundamental questions. On the surface, digitization would seem to imply that data has more longevity – for example, an ASCII version of a book will be copied in so many places that it has a much better chance of surviving.
However, the problem is that ASCII is about the only lingua franca of computers, and it’s a poor, low-bandwidth way of storing information. Richer formats have a habit of either being proprietary (PDF), which might give them a more limited life than open ones. And don’t even start thinking about the problems of physical media…[BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]