Thoughts on Digital Preservation from my 2011 talk at the Library of Congress

Back in 2011, I gave a talk about digital preservation at the Library of Congress.  The LOC just made the video available now, several years later.

I start out by talking about some personal failures of digital preservation. First, I discuss our failure at O'Reilly Media to keep much in the way of records of GNN, the first web portal and the first web site to offer advertising; we just didn't given enough thought at the time to the importance of what we were doing.  In 1993, we were just a small company doing something we thought was interesting; we didn't realize how historic our work would be.

Later, realizing the importance, we made an attempt to keep records of the 1998 "open source summit" by assembling links to various published sources, only to find those sources disappear or be redirected over time.

The third failure was a failure of Google Maps when I was out of range in the Sierra, coupled with the unavailability of printed maps.  This leads me to reflections on a future without print, and the urgency of thinking about digital preservation.

I contrast these personal failures with the design of systems like Wikipedia and Github, which have digital preservation and version control built right in. I urge thinking about the design of systems where preservation and archiving are not afterthoughts, but essential to the service.
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