How Safe is Digital Information?

Sangita Purohit, Librarian, AES-Ahmedabad, India

Given the right hardware and software, digital information is easy to create copy and disseminate; however, it is very hard to preserve. At present, it is impossible to guarantee the longevity and legibility of digital information for even one human generation. The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has sponsored work on possible solutions to this problem. One such solution is the development of emulators, which would enable access to information created using software and hardware that has since become obsolete. The merits of emulation are widely debated, and the approach has yet to be developed for broad, practical use. A more viable strategy, many argue, is migration, which the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information defines as “the periodic transfer of digital materials from one hardware/software configuration to another, or from one generation of computer technology to a subsequent generation.” This paper does not argue the merits of emulation or migration for longevity; rather, it addresses the practical aspects of migration in an operating library. Migration is, in essence, a translation. With migration, as with all translations, some information is lost, no matter how skilled the interpreter. In migration, it is usually the context, rather than the data, that drops out or is improperly reconstructed in the new code. This can be crippling in dynamic formats, in relational databases, and even in simple spreadsheets. None the less, given how much information already exists in digital form and the brevity of its projected life span, institutions must act now to move information forward. They cannot afford to wait for the optimal solution.

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India Management University January 2011 Vol. 4, No. 14, Winter 2011

Sangita Purohit

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Mrs. Sangita Purohit is employed by the Ahmedabad Education Society (AES Post Graduate Institute of Business Management ) located in the state of Gujarat –INDIA. Having obtained her Masters degree in Library Science from the university of Sagar- INDIA she is now pursuing Ph.D in Library-Science and has 9 years experience in the field of Library-Science in INDIA. Mrs. Purohit has attended several National / International seminars in INDIA, presented several papers in the field of Library-Science and conducted one seminar in DIGITAL-LIBRARY.

Ahmedabad Education Society

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Ahmedabad University (AU) is a self-financed non-affiliating university promoted by the Ahmedabad Education Society (AES). Established in the year 1936 by visionaries like Kasturbhai Lalbhai, Ganesh Mavalankar and other luminaries, AES has remained a benchmark for high academic standards for more than seven decades. It is the largest education society in Western India which has spread the light of knowledge and wisdom in diverse fields of education and established new benchmarks of excellence. AU is committed to the pursuit of inquiry and to provide better access to the students of Gujarat to professional and general higher education which is contemporary in scope and career oriented in content. AU will be the new star in the education landscape of Gujarat. The University is committed to delivering global quality education in the Indian context and ethos.

India Management University January 2011 Vol. 4, No. 14, Winter 2011
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