Magazine article Information Management

A Digital Archiving Standard

Magazine article Information Management

A Digital Archiving Standard

Article excerpt

Librarians, researchers, and archivists have long debated ways to preserve digital documents long-term. Two current, widely practiced methods, most experts agree, are not good enough - updating and converting older files into newer versions is too labor-intensive and saving old files is risky because future software and computers may not be able to read them.

According to the New York Times, Raymond Lorie, a researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San lose, California, developed a prototype for a "universal virtual computer," a system with an architecture and language designed to be logical and accessible so that future computer developers will be able to write instructions to emulate, or mimic, it on their machines. Emulation is a computer science technique in which code is written for an operating system (OS) to allow it to mimic in every detail the operation of another OS, enabling it to run any program that was written for the other OS.

Lorie demonstrated his system for the National Library of the Netherlands, which hired IBM to investigate a way to preserve electronic publications.

Before it can be a viable solution, the universal computer would first have to be adopted as a standard throughout the computer industry. Software developers with new file formats would need to write additional software that could read and display the files in the language of the universal computer. At the same time, descriptions of the universal computer would need to be widely available for future computer developers. …

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