Notes on Format Obsolescence

In a post from 2007, Digital preservationist David Rosenthal argues format obsolescence is a “serious and ultimately fatal problem”:

The most important threat to digital preservation is not the looming but distant and gradual threat of format obsolescence. It is rather the immediate and potentially fatal threat of economic failure. No-one has enough money to preserve the materials that should be preserved with the care they deserve. That is why current discussions of digital preservation prominently feature the problem of “sustainability”.

Rosenthal writes about two main activities of repository ingest: preservation metadata and format migration tools. This is why we love places and projects like the Internet Archive and LOCKSS.

Notes on Format Obsolescence