Expert overviews preserving digital heritage
June 1st, 2008

Sarah Kansa and her husband Eric Kansa head The Alexandria Archive Institute which is a veteran pioneer in digital open access for world cultural heritage research and instruction. In an article at, Sarah Kansa writes about Preserving Digital Heritage for Perpetuity… or at Least for the Next 25 Years. Her analysis concludes:

In addition to examples of ways to increase the impact and exposure of data, creators of digital content would benefit from general guidelines for understanding user experience with digital humanities collections (that is, what are people using and why are they using it?). The AAI is initiating an assessment of community needs around digital cultural heritage resources, specifically with regard to Open Context. This study will identify the diverse needs of the various communities served by cultural heritage data dissemination and produce a set of guidelines to enable projects and individuals to broadly and intelligently distribute their content, make it useful to others, and assure that it retains its integrity for long-term future use.

There is no lack of digital content out there. Each community, institution or individual creating and sharing it needs to also take responsibility for preserving it. Currently, content isolated in silos stands the least chance of survival because of its inaccessibility and the lack of portability and re-usability of content. An open access (and open licensing and open standards) approach will go a long way towards preserving our digital cultural heritage in perpetuity, albeit a few years at a time.

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