[LINK] Internet leading to cultural 'black hole': Library
brd at iimetro.com.au
Mon Apr 20 10:30:37 AEST 2009
Haven't we always had "black holes" in our recorded history?
eg before printing and before reading/writing became widespread.
Plus ça change, plus ça meme chose.
Internet leading to cultural 'black hole': Library
April 20, 2009 - 7:48AM
Australia is in danger of losing its cultural heritage and much of its
recent history if ephemeral material on the web isn't archived for
future generations, the National Library of Australia has warned.
Library manager of web archiving, Paul Koerbin, said that with
everything from government documents to personal photos and video clips
now being published exclusively online, the transient, dynamic nature of
the web meant that much of this information would be lost over time.
"There is a serious issue regarding the loss of our digital cultural
heritage," he said.
"We are losing history ... the fact is there will be 'black holes' that
future researchers will have to deal with."
His comments come after Lynne Brindley, the head of the British Library,
warned that as websites come and go, the memory of the nation disappears
too, leaving historians and citizens of the future with a "black hole in
the knowledge base of the 21st century".
To help rectify the problem, major cultural institutions like the NLA
are archiving some of the important material on the web, but this is
only done on an ad-hoc basis and tight resources mean they are not even
close to capturing all the most critical websites.
In San Francisco, the non-profit Internet Archive
(http://www.archive.org) automatically scrapes parts of the web and its
Wayback Machine allows people to surf back in time to see what their
favourites sites looked like as far back as 1996. It already contains
three petabytes of data, which equates to more than three million gigabytes.
The NLA has been archiving Australian online publications at its Pandora
website (http://pandora.nla.gov.au) for a decade but, as of March, it
has captured just 21,614 "archived titles".
This includes the plethora of websites associated with the Sydney
Olympics, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's "Kevin07" election site and the
site of the 2007 APEC summit, held in Sydney.
Government websites are of particular interest to the NLA as these often
disappear or change completely after elections.
Other smaller-scale Australian web archiving projects include Sydney's
Powerhouse Museum, which last year asked the public to submit their
personal emails - from the heart-wrenching to the hilarious - in an
effort to preserve present-day communications for future generations.
It received just 10,000 emails, enough to create only a snapshot of
Mr Koerbin said the web had changed considerably from the time the NLA
began archiving and was now "highly dynamic, enormous in size and ever
growing". The trend towards social networking - as opposed to simply
publishing material on a web page - made the task of archiving extremely
complex and daunting, as did copyright law and privacy regulations.
"While it has always been an issue to determine what we should try and
preserve this is much more complicated now and in fact we can probably
do relatively less," he said.
brd at iimetro.com.au
More information about the Link