Digital archiving – what’s left after 10 years

Duncan Stephen
Tuesday 28 October 2014

What is still on the web after 10 years of archiving?

Digital preservation is not typically at the forefront of most people’s minds today. But it is likely to become a bigger issue as more people begin to realise we have been doing the modern-day equivalent of wiping tapes of classic television programmes.

The British Library are doing a lot of work on archiving the web, which is a very challenging problem.

Many high-profile and important websites have already been lost in the web’s short history. One example is the website of the Hutton Enquiry. The domain name registration was allowed to lapse, and for years it has been replaced by a less-than-reputable looking personal injury claim website.

This article analyses data from the past ten years, and reveals that “very few archived resources are still available, unchanged, on the current web”.

As more of our communication takes place on digital formats rather than printed documents, we should spare a thought for archivists and future historians. If we want to read what was in the prospectus ten years ago, we can find a copy wherever it’s stored. How will we be able to do that for our digital assets?

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