Other than the complete and total angst this paper is causing me, I absolutely love it. For my preservation class, I've managed to wrangle a research paper topic which focuses on exactly the problem I'm interested in.
Of course, I don't have a SOLUTION for the problem. But I'm enjoying poking holes in other people's so-called solutions.
(Disregard the bad writing, this is still my first draft.)
Some choose the goal of the physical preservation of the bits as all that can be managed, relying on future efforts for managing the “logical preservation”, or ability to render the bits into comprehensible data. “Not only is it a good bet to assume that technological innovation will continue and afford us the ability to decode the data later, but we should also assume that entirely new kinds of software may, through new types of data mining, find entirely new types of valuable information and expressiveness in preserved bits.” (Smith, p. 7) This is an understandable position, as it requires the least amount of time, effort, and budget from library institutions, which have many other tasks to focus upon. However, the assumption that is being made in this line of thought is a very big one indeed. While it is a possibility that the technology will be available to decode bits in the future, it is unlikely to be an easy task. And unless very good metadata is kept, and kept in readable format, it will be impossible for these future efforts to select which bits to rediscover.
I think I kept that politic, instead of saying what I really feel, which is "How can you be so stupid and irresponsible? 'Not my problem, kthxbye!' does not good librarianship make. Also, did no one ever tell you "assume" makes an ass out of you and me?"
Smith, A. (2007). Valuing Preservation. Library Trends, v. 56, p. 4-25.