What the instructor Dr Paul Wu says about H6662 Digital Preservation:
As students of information science, we are keenly aware of the challenge of finding the right information at the right time against the information deluge in this digital age. However, few have realized that even with the information found at hand, we are still in danger of losing it soon if we don’t consider digital preservation seriously.
National culture institutions have been aware of the threats to the longevity of national digital heritage in the past two decades. The film Into the Future: On the Preservation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age (accessible on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTzLO2SHTEI as a four part series) highlights how much more fragile digital information is than information traditionally carried on paper files. That is why the National Library Board of Singapore, together with our school, and a consortium of around 30 national libraries around the world, have endeavored to develop the Web Archives of Singapore since 2006, to protect Singapore’s Web heritage now and in the future. Still, it is too late to preserve the earlier websites of NTU!
At the personal level, our common experience with HTTP error 404 page-not-found messages is evidence of the risks associated with digital information. The photos we post on Flickr and Facebook, videos on YouTube, and mp3/4 on iTune are also in danger of disappearing on us. You may have heard about a certain popular blogger who lost her entire blog, together with a large part of her identity. The same can happen to us, just as for others or for an entire nation, when we lose our photos, blog posts, documents and videos – digital records of our identity.
It is the purpose the H6662 Digital Preservation course to familiarize us with the issues highlighted above and potential solutions to address such risks. We shall learn from the knowledge painstakingly accumulated by national culture institutions and partners who have developed programs for digital preservation around the world. Such knowledge can even be applied at the personal level – e.g., one can visit a Library of Congress portalet (at http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/you/) for some tips on “Personal Archiving”. In the course, you will get a chance to apply what you have learned in a case study that may concern you or your community. Collaboration and participation will be highly emphasized in this course – even in reading the literature by having reading wikis. We also encourage leveraging on work done by past students so that current students can really focus on achieving tangible results in the course, both conceptually and experientially.