Thursday, January 31, 2008

Saving Everything in the Government

This is an interesting endeavor:

"A new international task force will convene for the first time Tuesday to address the problem of maintaining data for future generations.

The National Science Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation are funding the Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access panel's two-year mission, with support from institutions like the Council on Library and Information Resources, Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, and the United Kingdom's Joint Information Systems Committee."

And later
"But she said the formal processes used to designate materials for storage or deletion are integral to sustainability across the globe because it is impossible to save everything."
It might well be possible to save everything. After all, Google Docs saves all the changes made to a document, just as Wikipedia does. Storage costs are going down and down and down.

But if you do save everything, will anyone be able to find what they want? Maybe. Google desktop indexes most everything.

But if you save everything, and anyone can find anything, will anyone care? The problem is the same as for wiretapping, or security cameras, you mostly can only review some stuff in real time. And humans are easily bored. As a natural born pack rat, I saved most everything from my bureaucratic career, at least after the PC landed on my desk. But no one will care. (Unlike Samuel Pepys, no one will write books about mid-level bureaucrats.)

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