Re: What exactly is the digital preservation problem?

From: Barry Mahon <mahons1_at_EIRCOM.NET>
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002 12:02:41 +0000

David Goodman wrote:
> It would seem to me much more practical from an economic and technical
> standpoint to simply archive all scientific publications, including the
> marginal ones, than to prepare
> > content extractions (by the authors
> > or experts) written with the aim at being concise, full content,
> > understandable in the long run
> This is not to denigrate the value of abstracts, reviews, modernized
> textbooks, or all the other devices for dealing with the volume of
> material, and the progress of a field. But the mechanical preservation of
> at least everything worth publishing for the indefinite future is a
> enormously simple and inexpensive problem by comparison.

It is interesting that this topic is arising just now. ICSTI the
International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (of which
IUPAP is a Member) has been discussing the subject for some time. We are
interested in "the record of science" and are anxious to ensure that
scientific publications are identified and preserved. We have no
specific attitude to how this is achieved but are worried that some of
the present publishing arrangements do not have a policy for

In the "old" days the secondary publishers, the abstracting and indexing
publishers, did an excellent job of identification and national and
other libraries looked after preservation. Both of these groups are
under pressure now to either identify or preserve all that is being

There are a number of issues that arise, not least of which is cost. We
would not necessarily agree that preservation is a "is an
enormously simple and inexpensive problem"

ICSTI is holding a Seminar on Feb. 14/15 in Paris at UNESCO, with the
assistance of CODATA and ICSU to evaluate the state of the art, to
identify the issues and to ensure that the science publishing community
is aware of the need to act to preserve the record.

Anyone on this list who would like to come is welcome, there is no
charge. Please contact ICSTI and for further

Barry Mahon, Executive Director, ICSTI
Received on Sun Jan 06 2002 - 11:26:01 GMT

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