I found this post on The Economist’s blog rather interesting.
The writer reports ideas and opinions about digital archiving and preservation, including: “The digital era brought with it the promise of indefinite memory…[yet] digital data often has a surprisingly short life.” and “…digital preservation is patchy at best.”
I can understand the author’s less than optimistic position on digital archiving (including web archiving), but there’s much to consider.
Unlike other forms of preservation (oil paintings, books, etc.), preserving online cultural heritage takes enormous resources, technical know-how, and forward thinking. To do it well also requires a certain discipline and attention to detail that most don’t possess or care about, until it’s too late.
This is why the preservation of online cultural heritage is of utmost importance right now. We owe many thanks to the pioneers, like Internet Archive and the members of the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC), for archiving what they can of the public web. It seems all is not “lost.”
The Economist article also mentions some limitations of web archives, such as the inability to archive password protected websites and complex digital objects. Another limitation not mentioned is curation. Many public institutions determine the scope of their archives by curation. This essentially means many sites are not archived because they’re not considered important to the institution’s stakeholders or their public. This affects the business community in terms of cultural heritage for corporate brands. With business migrating to the web, millions of dollars each year are invested in brand development, propagated through dynamic websites, inbound and outbound online marketing, and across the social media landscape. Your brand gives your customers a tangible asset to which they can grasp, pledge their loyalty to, build relationships and interact with, or complain about.
Hanzo continues to develop and implement the web archiving best practices, including those from the latest standards and from working with members of institutions such as those in the IIPC. We also develop our own, and apply these standards and best practices to corporate cultural heritage needs.
Hanzo web archiving technology is enabling the long-term, digital preservation of online cultural heritage brand presence, and business activities. Unlike what The Economist’s article suggests, these web archives don’t have a limited shelf-life. We know, because we web archive the cultural heritage and online business communications of our clients’ brands all the time, and these are highly valued.
It would be interesting to know your opinion. Do you invest in preservation of your online brand presence? Or, does your web and social media content have a finite lifespan?
Either way, let us know. We may be able to improve your current web archiving protocol or help you quickly get started.