The digital dark ages: digital preservation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


he Gutenberg printing revolution led Europe out of the Dark Ages — the loss of knowledge of the learning of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The digital revolution may land us in an age even darker if urgent action is not taken. In particular need of attention is the ever-changing information available on the internet, through email and the world wide web. Details preserved in private communications, by accident or design, reveal much of the past. The writings of Roman soldiers in Britain on the Vindolanda tablets, the notebooks of King Alfred, the letters of Charles Dickens, the papers of statesmen like Jefferson or Mountbatten, offer many personal, literary and political insights unavailable in more public documents. The telegraph and telephone led to a decline in letter-writing. The rise of email and text-messaging has meant that communication through writing is popular again. The disadvantage is that either the written products will be deleted or destroyed, or we will be tempted to keep so much that the costs and problems of data organisation render them virtually useless.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42 - 43
Number of pages2
Issue numberPART 2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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