16 of Europe’s top Libraries, Archives, Universities and Technology Institutions are collaborating to map the ‘Digital Genome’ – preserving the electronic building blocks required to unlock our digital heritage.
Over the last decade the digital age has seen an explosion in the rate of data creation. Estimates from 2009 suggest that over 100 GB of data has already been created for every single individual on the planet ranging from holiday snaps to health records – that’s over 1 trillion CDs worth of data, equivalent to 24 tons of books per person!
Yet research by the European Commission co-funded Planets project, coordinated by the British Library, highlights deep concerns regarding the preservation of these digital assets. Findings suggest that as hardware and software are superseded by more up-to-date technology, and older formats become increasingly inaccessible, the EU alone is losing over 3 billion Euros worth of digital information every year.
Looking to ensure the preservation of our digital heritage, on 18 May the Planets project deposited a time capsule containing a record of the ‘Digital Genome’ inside Swiss Fort Knox – a high security digital storage facility hidden deep in the Swiss Alps – preserving the information and the tools to reconstruct highly valuable data long after the lifeline of supporting technology has disappeared.
Inside the Digital Time Capsule: Five major at risk formats - JPEGs, JAVA source code, .Mov files, websites using HTML, and PDF documents; Versions of these files stored in archival standard formats – JPEG2000, PDFA, TIFF and MPEG4 – to prolong lifespan for as long as possible; 2,500 additional pieces of data – mapping the genetic code necessary to describe how to access these file formats in future; Translations of the required code into multiple languages to improve chances of being able to interpret in the future; Copies of all information stored on a complete range of storage media – from CD, DVD, USB, Blu-Ray, Floppy Disc, and Solid State Hard Drives to audio tape, microfilm and even paper print outs.