Historians of the future, citizens of the future, will find a black hole in the knowledge base of the 21st century.”
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The British Library’s head says that deleting websites will make job of historians harder
- The Observer,Sunday 25 January 2009
Historians face a “black hole” of lost material unless urgent action is taken to preserve websites and other digital records, the head of the British Library has warned.
Just as families store digital photos on computers which might never be passed on to their descendants, so Britain’s culturalheritageis at risk as theinternetevolves and technologies become obsolete, says Lynne Brindley, the library’s chief executive.
Writing in today’s Observer, Brindley cites two examples of losses overseas. When Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president last week, all traces of George Bush disappeared from the White House website, including a booklet entitled 100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration, which is no longer accessible.
There were more than 150 websites relating to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, she continues, but these, too, 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 – perhaps exacerbated by the current economic climate that is killing companies – the memory of the nation disappears too,” Brindley writes. “Historians of the future, citizens of the future, will find a black hole in the knowledge base of the 21st century.”