06 March 2009

Data Rot. So what?

The digital age brings its own problems about data integrity and permanence for those of us who work in the library/archives field.

CBS's "Sunday Morning," ran a package about "Data Rot" on March 1st that I like very much -- so much that I learned how to embed a video feed into this blog to share it with you. [ Thank you, Amanda, one of the American Library Association's, "Emerging Leaders," and Beaufort County Library's own!]

What is Data Rot? “Data that is lost due to the age or neglect of the medium on which it is stored.” Simply speaking, data may become so old that there is no longer any viable equipment to read it because the technology that reads the data has become obsolete or abandoned.

Think about this: When was the last time you were able to insert a 5 1/4" floppy disk into a computer? How many of us still have a computer able to read a 5 1/4" floppy? In fact, I doubt that many of us still own a computer that can read a 3 1/2" storage disk. Storage devices for electronic data change all the time; software to create and read electronic data changes all the time. If we're re-formatting or creating only digital data, what do we have to do to insure that we'll be able to use that data in the future?

"Data Rot" is something to think about -- particularly if some of your precious documents and images are only in digital form. The CBS package runs about 8 minutes but I believe that it is a great way to learn about an issue that tends to fly under the radar. Enduring about 15 seconds of commercial to get to the meat of the package is worth it.

Watch CBS Videos Online

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