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23 May

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Preserving your digital memories, explained by Library of Congress

May 23, 2007 | By |

As David Weinberger points out in his (so far great) book Everything is Miscellaneous, the way librarians used to order information is pretty much obsolete in the digital world.

(Just for clarification, it’s not the librarians’ fault, it’s just the way the meatspace works: One physical object can only occupy one space at the time, and every space can only be occupied by one physical object at a time. For obvious reasons, this sucks and is done away with in the digital space by using tags. This is the short-short version, and it really shouldn’t keep you from reading the whole book – surely it won’t keep me from doing so.)

When it comes to preserving data, however, do as the librarians do:

Preserving personal digital materials is a critical piece of preserving the nation’s history and culture; it is challenge we all share. (…)

You can put a book on a shelf or a photo in a box and (if kept dry and safe) look at it 50 years later. The same is not true with a digital object. This is why, in many cases, digital materials are considered more fragile than physical ones.

The Library of Congress has a neat little section about what you can do to preserve your digital memories. It’s all very basic stuff, but there you go.

Hint: In case you’d like to take extra care of your books, too, but they just got wet, check out the Preservation FAQ:

Q: Can I save wet books? What if my books are moldy?

A: Yes. Books can be air-dried, or frozen and then dried at a later date.

(I can’t even tell how much I like the idea of keeping a stack up frozen books in my fridge. For hard times when you need a good read, maybe?)

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