Into the Future: On the Preservation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age (Video)

Article excerpt

TITLE: Into the Future: On the Preservation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age (video)

PRODUCTION COMPANY: American Film Foundation

RELEASE DATE: 1997

RUNTIME: 33 min. or 56 min., VHS format

PRICE: See below

ORDER FROM: American Film Foundation, (310) 459-2116, $39.50 (33 min.)/ $59.50 (56 min.); ARMA International Publication Sales, (800) 422-2762 (33 min. only) $45 members/ $55 non-members

What if ...

* The U.S. Constitution had been drafted on a computer?

* William Shakespeare had written his famous plays on a word processor?

* Monet had used computer graphics to create his water lilies?

Would these great achievements still be available for us today? Unless their creators migrated each work to more durable media, the answer is a resounding "No!"

Preservation of digital information is rapidly becoming a losing battle as more and more data is created in various formats, then stored on a wide variety of media using hardware and software programs that quickly become obsolete. Digital storage methods are inconsistent over time, and much of the data stored this way has been lost or is unretrievable.

Into the Future: On the Preservation of Knowledge ill the Electronic Age is a video that provides a gripping look at the problems posed by electronic information. It explores the issues involved in preservation of and future access to today's digitally stored information. (It is a sequel to the award winning video Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record.)

The video provides a historical perspective on recorded information through the ages, from cave paintings to paper, to cinematic film, to magnetic tape and microforms. Preservation efforts focus on rescuing these media from further deterioration and saving the history they contain. Although important, such efforts center on the past, and we forget the problems mounting with digital technology, the primary means used to record today's government, science, cultural, and historic information.

Into the Future shows us why we need to be concerned through insights from such prominent information professionals as Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web; Peter Norton, founder of Norton Utilities; John Seely Brown, chief scientist at Xerox Corp. …