INF530 Module 1 – The information environment

It is very thought provoking to reflect on what will remain of our digital heritage and the idea of a digital dark age. As noted in the article  (American Scientist) the very issue of evolving formats has already shown that digital repositories of knowledge can  be lost.

I also ponder the very fact that we can ‘marvel at illuminated manuscripts’ and read Egyptian papyrus and yet our ‘modern day’  digital artifacts do not have that same robustness.

We are living in a ´throw away’ society, and perhaps that also includes information? It seems that the information  we create and store grows exponentially, and I wonder if it can ever be all ‘saved’? Should it be?  I wonder should we hoard so much information? I look at my external hard drive, and usb and computer files, and find that I have multiple copies of documents created and stored over the years (Let alone all that I have uploaded to the ‘cloud’). Perhaps it is time for a ‘cull’ J  However,  overall they are the ‘markers’  we leaving for those to follow, to examine how we lived, thought etc.

It is very topical that just this week an article was published on BBC News with Pallab Ghosh interviewing Vint Cerf, Google Vice-President  (13 Feb 2105) on this very issue. Cerf suggests that we save not only a digital file but a ‘snapshot’ of every detail from photo or document, to operating bits of the computer/device etc for future posterity – capturing the digital environment for the distant future.  This is obviously the future, but I also think it may bring up financial and political implications. Is this something Google is already working on, and may financially gain from, or any other organisation for that matter?

Our roles within the information field is very much about management, storage, preservation and providing access, only with the digital environment it is a different format and perhaps a more challenging one. In many of my schools information is still stored on school servers, though with movement to storing in the ‘cloud’.

I delved into two articles about the digital repositories of both Google Booksand Europeana. It was my foray into using CSU library J  One issue that arose was that  these digital repositories are constrained within copyright laws, so that the majority of  primary resources available are those which are in the public domain ( material from early 1900’s or before). Valtysson 2012)  makes this comment about  Europeana which while it has links to 15 million digital items containing images, sounds, videos from different museums, galleries, archives, libraries, and audio visual collections in Europe, it still does not allow for open access, user generated content and interactive, creative participation (which apparently was part of its aim).

The positive is that these primary resources are available to a global audience who may not ever had the chance to view them (as commented re The Vatican Library). The different digital repositories act as access points to a ‘collective memory’ and ‘cultural heritage’ (Valtysson 2012).

I find it very interesting when Valtysson makes the point of how the major role of libraries has included “the power to choose the cornerstones of our knowledge, and more importantly, to facilitate access to them” and how this in itself can never be’ neutral’ but brings certain values at the expense of others’. I guess this could also be applied to our own libraries.

Katherine, your reflections sent me to the Internet Archive (thank you). I was interested to read the page  asking for volunteers. As noted, we all need to be active contributors and preservationists. I believe this will become even more important, and perhaps something that we should be encouraging our students to think about, as we need to.


Bjarki Valtysson (2012) EUROPEANA, Information, Communication & Society, 15:2, 151-170, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2011.586433

Dália Leonardo, (2012),”Google Books: primary sources in the public domain”, Collection Building, Vol. 31 Iss 3 pp. 103 – 107 Permanent link to this document: on: 20 February 2015, At: 01:15 (PT)