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    An Alternative Method of Very Long-term Conservation of Digital Images and their Historical Context for The Archive, University College, Oxford

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2018)

    London, UK, 9 - 13 July 2018


    Graham Diprose, Michael George & Robin Darwall-Smith



    The fragility of digital data as a means of storing our images, texts and finances, is well-known to anyone who has ever experienced a failed hard drive, with vital work still to be backed up. Curators worldwide are charged with finding means of safely preserving all the born digital and digitised material in their collections. Yet the likelihood that technologies and generally accepted methods for data preservation utilised at the start of their time in post, are likely to be vastly different in every way, later in their career. We are already aware of many of the technical issues faced in longer-term digital preservation, redundant software and file formats, data storage hardware failure, bit rot literally breaking down data over time, to name but a few.

    However, these may be the least of the issues facing our particular digital works in any archive, supposing there is no funding for further vital migration, or the archive has newer material that is considered more important, or simply that our, yet unborn, great-great-grandchildren have very different aesthetic tastes and do not like or value our particular collection. This paper proposes an alternative approach to very long-term digital preservation where our most important and significant works of art can be safely preserved for centuries into the future, by utilising a proven technology many thousands of years old.


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