Jules Richardson wrote on "Digital Archaeology of the Microcomputer, 1974-1994
aek at bitsavers.org
Thu Jan 18 11:23:54 CST 2007
>> So the question is what should be saved? Is there something about the
>> 'exotic hardware/software' that is historically significant?
> Well, if you adopt the "only historically significant" things are to
> be collected mantra, you never would have had something like the Henry
> Ford Museum in Michigan. *All* of the stuff he amassed for that
> collection was considered not historically significant at the time.
> Now its amazing to be able to walk down an aisle and see the evolution
> of the sewing machine, or the dishwasher or the clothes washer/dryer,
> I think there are some things you can say have obvious historical
> value. Others aren't historically significant *by themselves* but
> allow you to make a realistic historical portait because they
> represent samples of devices over time.
This is an argument that people in archives and museums have to confront
every day when donations come in. If there was infinite conditioned storage
space time/money to process donations, much more would be accepted than
happens in the real world. As a curator, I have to make the decision to
commit CHM's resources to preserve something in perpetuity. From the time
I have spent talking to Doron Swane about the British Science Museum's
collecting policies this is not unique. "You cannot save everything, where
would you put it?" isn't a joke when you are talking about collections expected
to last hundreds of years.
One of the most serious responsibilies that I have, along with the activities of
physical and electronic artifact preservation at CHM is making the decision to
accept an artifact into the collection.
Things created in the PC era and forward are especially difficult, since there
was so much produced in a fairly narrow product niche (personal computers).
Do you need to save EVERY version of a software package (and all of the documentation)?
Remember, storage and processing isn't free.
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