Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Electronic records roundup

In no particular order, some electronic records news that may be of interest:
  • The thoughtful and hard-working folks at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History have explained some of the challenges of preserving the state's digital history. (As you'll recall, gubernatorial e-mail management practices recently gave rise to controversy in the Palmetto State.)
  • The archivists at Queens University (Canada) are grappling with similar issues.
  • David Pogue and CBS Sunday Morning drew attention to "data rot" -- the problems associated with hardware and software obsolescence. (N.B.: Pogue thinks that the word "archivist" contains a long "i."
  • If you're interested in the evolution of cybersecurity, be sure to check out the short films that were shown at the annual conferences attended by Bell Labs executives. You'll find them on YouTube courtesy of the AT&T Archives. (And if you're interested in the history of hacking, be sure to check out Ron Rosenbaum's fascinating 1971 article on "phone phreaking," which captured the imagination of a generation of computer enthusiasts -- Steve Jobs among them.)
  • A computer science Ph.D. student has found that, less than a year after the revolution in Egypt, approximately 10 percent of the social media posts documenting it have vanished from the live Web. A variety of factors account for this situation. People sometimes post things, regret doing so, and then delete them. Others get tired of maintaining their accounts and delete or deactivate them. Others were almost certainly the target of government repression and either removed content under duress or had content removed without their consent. The student's overarching conclusion: we need to become a lot more proactive about capturing Web content that documents the unfolding of historically significant events. (He'll get no argument from me.)

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