Choosing to preserve Civil War memos, Tin Pan Alley recordings and World War II documents — carp, anyone? — is an easy decision. These artifacts help shape our nation and invite present day parties to peer through a window to the past.
But in the future we might wish to revisit those days when there was not yet an app for that. The Smithsonian Institution is betting on our historical curiosities.
Digital preservation is a complex puzzle, filled with pixel switchbacks and faulty floppy disks, so I spoke with one SI archivist via email.
“One of the most challenging aspects is dealing with the sheer quantity of files,” says Lynda Schmitz Fuhrig, an electronic records archivist.
“For example, one collection of records can contain thousands of images, thousands of word-processing documents and a few audio files.”
Schmitz Fuhrig says each of those files must be accessible for future researchers while still retaining authenticity and integrity.
She is part of a project to catalog the Facebook pages of the museums, research centers and offices that comprise the SI network.
Schmitz Fuhrig and others will capture PDFs of the 80 Facebook accounts registered to SI in an attempt to archive the “important and broad history of the Smithsonian Institution.”
The effort deserves a status update, at least.