What is digital preservation?

“Digital preservation is a set of activities required to make sure digital objects can be located, rendered, used and understood in the future.” (from the Digital Preservation Europe website).

To be in the information era means that a huge amount of data is produced on a daily basis. Contrary to popular belief, these data are not exempt from the perishability of traditional media, but are at risk of being lost due to the aging of the digital medium on which they’re stored.

To take a concrete example, your thesis written in a computer model on the market in the Eighties may not be easily recoverable on a modern PC. The same argument can then be applied in a much broader context, as for example the files containing the results of years and years of studies conducted inside a scientific research facility.

There is therefore the need to adopt strategies and cautions in such a way that all this amount of data, of varying significance and importance, is not lost.

Here comes into play the so-called digital preservation, which thus refers to all the information contained within digital support, as the data manufactured by a company or the source code of an ancient video game.

Many different methodologies are used in this field, some designed to emulate the original environment on modern systems, others that aim directly to reconstruct the hardware of the time using techniques such as reverse engineering.

We talk about digital preservation, in fact, also in reference to the restoration of the original hardware. A good example of this is the reconstruction of Tennis for Two made ​​by MEGA, which have created a working replica of the very first video game experiment .

Below, you can find a number of links that may allow you to deepen your knowledge about the subject:

DPE: About Digital Preservation Europe

Digital Preservation: A Time Bomb for Digital Libraries MARGARET HEDSTROM School of Information, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1092, U.S.A.

Digital Preservation (Library of Congress)