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The Internet

We're In Danger of Losing Our Memories 398

Hugh Pickens writes "The chief executive of the British Library, Lynne Brindley, says that our cultural heritage is at risk as the Internet evolves and technologies become obsolete, and that historians and citizens face a 'black hole' in the knowledge base of the 21st century unless urgent action is taken to preserve websites and other digital records. For example, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president last week, all traces of George W. Bush disappeared from the White House website. There were more than 150 websites relating to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that vanished instantly at the end of the games and are now stored only by the National Library of Australia. 'If websites continue to disappear in the same way as those on President Bush and the Sydney Olympics... the memory of the nation disappears too,' says Brindley. The library plans to create a comprehensive archive of material from the 8M .uk domain websites, and also is organizing a collecting and archiving project for the London 2012 Olympics. 'The task of capturing our online intellectual heritage and preserving it for the long term falls, quite rightly, to the same libraries and archives that have over centuries systematically collected books, periodicals, newspapers, and recordings...'" Over the years we've discussed various aspects of this archiving problem.

The clothes have no emperor. -- C.A.R. Hoare, commenting on ADA.