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November 2001


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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
"Pullen, Sharon" <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 9 Nov 2001 10:35:21 -0500
"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
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        I think we are talking at cross-purposes here.  I am not disagreeing
at all with your points about the quality of digitally reproduced materials.
However, the preservation issues are a different case.  The preservation of
electronic records is a critical issue.  It goes beyond conversion packages
and cross-platform considerations.
        Admittedly, commercial providers of software and hardware are
becoming more awake to the issue of backwards compatibility but authority
and authentication of electronic records via the means of metadate is
something in its infancy.  This does not even address images created
electronically or reproduced electronically from originals.  The very
technology that can re-create faded pencil marks can be used to alter images
as well.
        Digitization is great, it absolutely cannot be beat as a method of
access and in the future, will probably be a method of preservation as well.
Now, however, that is far from the case.  The longevity of the  physical
media, (CD's) for instance is only 35 years at the outside.  If your TIFF
file is on a CD that is as long as it might last.  Additionally, stability
of the media is a question.  I think everyone has had the experience of
damaged disks, corrupted files, etc.
        Even the computer industry is having difficulty creating its own
history due to the fact of older hardware being disassembled.
        I am doing a poor job of explaining these issues, but have you seen
the "Into the Future" video?  It is very enlightening.

Sharon A. Pullen, CA
Suffolk County Archivist
Historical Documents Library
Office of the County Clerk
310 Center Drive
Riverhead, NY 11901-3392

Phone: 631-852-2015
Email: [log in to unmask]