Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Digital Dark Age?

Was just reading this article about a 700 year old manuscript found here in our stacks at the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Listen to this quote:
In his essay, Greenia describes how rare it is to find medieval documents. He estimates that for every volume that survived during the Middle Ages, nine more were lost. Archivists have documented the disappearance of parchments from the 13th and 14th centuries, “some perhaps rolled into tubes to make fireworks.”
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the contents of city archives were sometimes stuffed into the barricades. Since they didn’t have sandbags, said Greenia, books were used instead.
And before the municipal archives were transferred to Madrid in the late 1970s, they “were still being kept in a top floor space subject to damp air and, when it rained, dripping water.”

Now think about digital documents in our current age. How many have you lost to a hard drive crash? To the damage done when you dropped your iPhone or laptop? How many of them have you forgotten were on your computer at all? How many will you back up or move to your next computer?

Some have said we might be living in a digital dark age if we don't come up with better ways to manage our digital content, and fast. What do you think?


  1. I think that's why it was referred to as the dark ages, because so little survives from that period. The thing I worry about the most is losing pictures.

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