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Interviewer: Mr. Beagrie, in modern societies information is expected to be digitally available. Why is this a threat to the future viability of this information?

Beagrie: In the right conditions papyrus or paper can survive by accident or through benign neglect for centuries or in the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls for thousands of years. It takes hundreds of years for languages and handwriting to evolve to the point where only a few specialists can read them.

In contrast, digital information will never survive and remain accessible by accident: it requires ongoing active management. The information and the ability to read it can be lost in a few years. Storage media such as paper tape, floppy disks, CD-ROM, DVD evolve and fall out of use rapidly. Digital storage media have relatively short archival life-spans compared to other media. As the volumes, heterogeneity, and complexity of digital information grows this requirement for active management becomes more challenging and more critical to a wider range of organisations.

- "Digital Information Will Never Survive by Accident”, Interview by SAF Info (http://www.sap.info) of Neil Beagrie, British Library and Joint Information Systems Committee Partnership Manager at the British Library, February 8, 2004

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File Name: neil_beagrie20040208.htm

Post Date: August 18, 2004 at 9:45 PM CDT; August 19, 2004 0245 GMT