The challenges of preserving digital content

Since the majority of content is going digital, a problem archivists have been bringing up for a while now, it’s becoming harder preserving digital content. This is the case even when it is not what would be considered old by the standards of other historic documents created by humanity. A lot of this is made worse by rapid changes in storage formats.

Case in point – the efforts required to preserve even recent movies as described in this article on IEEE Spectrum. As the article mentions, we’ve already lost access to 90% of US movies made during the silent area and about 50% of movies made before 1950. I suspect that the numbers for the European film industry might be even worse thanks to World War 2. However, keep in mind that those are numbers for movies stored on a more durable medium, namely film. And yes, I know that the early nitrate film is about as flammable as they come.

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