The goal of this column is not to argue the pros and cons of digital archiving, or to propose solutions to its problems, but to describe it as a research subject and a social phenomenon.
This column relies on cultural anthropology, in particular the approach that Clifford Geertz championed, and for cultural anthropology, language and its social context matter.
Archiving systems abound with competing claims about effectiveness. Transparency and evidence of public testing is rare, with a few exceptions. The lack of public testing does not mean that systems do less than they claim, but it does mean that libraries, archives and museums need to press for proof if they want to have confidence in the product.
When betting on the future, these cannot be certainty, but bets placed should be based on knowledge.
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