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IDPD17: 'BitList' and DP Community Workshop


International Digital Preservation Day 2017: DPC Bit List and Digital Preservation Community Workshop

A ‘Bit List’ of the World’s Endangered Digital Species has been unveiled for the first time today as part of an international campaign to raise awareness of the need to preserve digital materials.

Co-ordinated and published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), the Bit List draws parallels with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and identifies a number of data, software and storage types which, if appropriate action is not taken, could become ‘practically extinct.’

The theme of ‘obsolete formats’ is also reflected in Trinity College Dublin’s programme for International Digital Preservation Day (IDPD17), which includes a pop-up Museum of Technology in the Berkeley Library, which will showcase obsolete computer hardware and software, which will be extended into an online exhibition. The exhibit includes computers and storage media from the 1980s right up to the present day. 

The Museum of Technology exhibit forms part of today's Digital Preservation Community Workshop, a collaborative event between DRI, Wikimedia Ireland and Trinity College Dublin Library. Taking the structure of a ‘Wikithon’, this event facilitates conversations and knowledge, through the medium of a collective creation and editing of Wikipedia pages on a variety of digital preservation subjects.

On the subject of ‘endangered digital species’, Executive Director of the DPC, Dr. William Kilbridec commented today “Teletext and the BBC’s Ceefax are an example of digital material which is now practically extinct and cannot be accessed by any practical means. While this might not be seen as critical information, and the service has been replaced by a modern equivalent, it matters for two reasons.  Our libraries and archives have good collections of printed newspapers: but for the late 70’s, 80’s and 1990’s there’s a gap relating to this genre of online news.  That’s a concern for historians and journalists.  But more importantly, it demonstrates the trend to data loss, even for popular and well-funded services. That matters to us all.”

Chair of the DPC Laura Mitchell observes that “We have been warning about the need for digital preservation for years and in the past, we worried about a ‘digital dark age.’ But by compiling and maintaining the Bit List over the coming years, the DPC can begin to celebrate great digital preservation endeavours as entries become less of a ‘concern,’ whilst still highlighting the need for efforts to safeguard those still considered ‘critically endangered.’”

In response to the Bit List, the DPC wants action to be taken, and in some cases urgently. They observe that in all cases assessment is needed quickly as the scale of the challenge gets bigger and bigger, as the importance, scale and complexity of data grows.  

The Bit List is published as part of International Digital Preservation Day which aims to raise awareness of the strategic, cultural and technological issues which make up the digital preservation challenge.  

Read the full Bit List