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In the News: How Will Historians of the Future Run MS Word 97? How Can We Save It for Them? | Slate Magazine

There is no preservation without loss. Archivists know this better than anyone. Emulation and hardware conservation, as well as other approaches—even printing out the source code—all have their partisans and proponents. Each entails trade-offs and compromises, and there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution. But one thing I’ve learned in my travels in software preservation is that the most important issues are not technical; they are social and cultural. Many early computer magazines in fact preserved software precisely by printing the source code—which readers could then manually transcribe—but the Library of Congress routinely discarded such magazines as mere ephemera before around 1990. That was a policy decision based on perceived value, not technical considerations. Whatever the details of the technical challenges and solutions for software preservation may turn out to be, first and foremost must be our human desire to harvest historical memory and understanding wherever it may lie.

via How Will Historians of the Future Run MS Word 97? How Can We Save It for Them? – Slate Magazine.

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