National Archives’ Digitization Dilemma
When President Bush leaves office after eight years, the White House is expected to turn over more than 100 million emails to the National Archives, the government body entrusted with preserving America’s official recorded history.
That’s a big jump from the 32 million from President Clinton’s White House, but then email only came into widespread use halfway through his tenure.
The rapid adoption of electronic communications technology in the last decade has created a major crisis for the Archives. For one thing, the amount of data to be preserved has exploded in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of high-tech tools such as personal computers and wireless email devices such as BlackBerries. At the same time, technology is becoming obsolete so fast that electronic documents created today may not be legible on tomorrow’s devices, the equivalent of trying to play an eight-track tape on an iPod.
Anne Marie Squeo. Oh, Has Uncle Sam Got Mail. The Wall Street Journal. Dec. 29, 2005.
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