The World's Most At-Risk Digital Materials Identified
30 November 2017
Posted by: Joe Chapman
Marking the first ever International Digital Preservation Day with an Urgent Call for Action
A ‘Bit List’ of the World’s Endangered Digital Species has been unveiled for the first time today as part of an international campaign to raise awareness of the need to preserve digital materials.
Co-ordinated and published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), the Bit List draws parallels with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and identifies a number of data, software and storage types which, if appropriate action is not taken, could become ‘practically extinct.’
“Teletext and the BBC’s Ceefax are an example of digital material which is now practically extinct and cannot be accessed by any practical means,” explains Executive Director of the DPC, Dr. William Kilbride.
“While this might not be seen as critical information, and the service has been replaced by a modern equivalent, it matters for two reasons. Our libraries and archives have good collections of printed newspapers: but for the late 70’s, 80’s and 1990’s there’s a gap relating to this genre of online news. That’s a concern for historians and journalists. But more importantly, it demonstrates the trend to data loss, even for popular and well-funded services. That matters to us all.”
“Not everything on the Bit List will interest everyone equally” explained Dr Kilbride, “but everyone will find something on the list which resonates with them, so digital preservation matters to us all.”
“By the same token, not everything needs to be kept: quite the contrary. But we need to make informed decisions about what to keep, and develop coherent strategies to protect them. This is much more than simply a question of technology.”
Chair of the DPC Laura Mitchell observes that “We have been warning about the need for digital preservation for years and in the past, we worried about a ‘digital dark age.’ But by compiling and maintaining the Bit List over the coming years, the DPC can begin to celebrate great digital preservation endeavours as entries become less of a ‘concern,’ whilst still highlighting the need for efforts to safeguard those still considered ‘critically endangered.’”
The Bit List is published as part of International Digital Preservation Day which aims to raise awareness of the strategic, cultural and technological issues which make up the digital preservation challenge.
Read the full Bit List