Digitization and Preservation

In this digital age, many would view digitization as a form of preservation similarly to how documentation is a form of preservation. While this may be true, digitization as a surefire method of preservation is dangerous. As stated by Cohen and Rosenzweig, there are many different ways that digital preservation can go wrong from something as simple as a forgotten password to the end of the internet. Not to mention the many different ways physical storage units for digital files can be damaged (like passing a magnet too close to a hard drive). There is also the issue of preservation of digital history. As sites grow older and grant money dwindles, there is always the question of how long a site should stay up. While many would think a website can exist indefinitely on the internet, the costs associated with maintenance and hosting can cause organizations to pull their sites, as with the case of My History Is American History. Of course, a website can be maintained for longer if it draws in users on a daily bases.

By making sure a historic website is well designed it can help ensure the preservation of that site by its continued use. Take for example, the Digital History site we are using as reference for many of these blog posts. The design is very standard with dull colors which convey a sense of boredom and monotony befitting the discussion of digital history. But of course, the site is nothing more than a space to read Cohen and Rosenzweig’s book. There is no need for a flashy banner or exciting color pallet. The site fulfills its purpose and is still used today (though not all the links have remained active). Given the subject of a website, sometimes the best design is the simplest and therefore the cheapest which can be very helpful for a small historical society or public museum with little funding for web design.

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