Losing the Past

US records experts claim that the first decades of the information era have been poorly recorded, and will create gap in the country’s historical record.
They say that information “born digital” such as electronic journals, email messages and web postings can’t be stored as reliably as traditional paper-based records.
Under old systems, multiple copies of documents gave paper trail of how policies and regulations developed, and who made them. These days only the final draft is saved, with rarely trail that leads back to how documents and decisions were developed, and made, who made them, and why – which is information most crucial to historians. The lack of information could make it difficult to hold people accountable for decisions and policies in the future.
A digital gap will span from the beginning of the widespread use of the computer until the time this problem is solved, they say. One researcher found that half the web disappears every month even though it doubles every year. The net has no memory. The mean life of web page is about 70 days, then it just goes. “There is no librarian taking care of things when the publisher loses interest.”

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