L’archivio digitale del MoMA

Interessantissimo post dal blog del MoMA sulle misure adottate dal museo per preservare le opere digitali:

The packager addresses the most fundamental challenge in digital preservation: all digital files are encoded. They require special tools in order to be understood as anything more than a pile of bits and bytes. Just as a VHS tape is useless without a VCR, a digital video file is useless without some kind of software that understands how to interpret and play it, or tell you something about its contents. At least with a VHS tape you can hold it in your hand and say, “Hey, this looks like a VHS tape and it probably has an analog video signal recorded on it.” But there is essentially nothing about a QuickTime .MOV file that says, “Hello, I am a video file! You should use this sort of software to view me.” We rely on specially designed software—be it an operating system or something more specialized—to tell us these things. The problem is that these tools may not always be around, or may not always understand all formats the way they do today. This means that even if we manage to keep a perfect copy of a video file for 100 years, no one may be able to understand that it’s a video file, let alone what to do with it. To avoid this scenario, the “packager” analyzes all digital collections materials as they arrive, and records the results in an obsolescence-proof text format that is packaged and stored with the materials themselves. We call this an “archival information package.”

Invece che su hard-disk hanno preferito salvare le opere su nastro magnetico. Questo per la natura dell’archivio: tantissimi dati usati molto raramente. Un museo (in generale) mostra al pubblico una minuscola frazione della propria collezione, mentre la maggior parte delle opere — a parte quando vi è un’esposizione o mostra specifica — vengono accantonate nell’archivio per anni.

In quest’ottica, la scelta del nastro magnetico ha senso. In più, per ogni opera verrà generata una versione di qualità inferiore disponibile on demand, in ogni momento, e salvata (in questo caso) su hard-disk.

It would be irresponsibly expensive to continue using hard drive storage, as it was not quite intended for this scale of data. We are currently in the final stages of designing a completely new “warehouse” with a company called Arkivum. This system will include a small cluster of hard drives, but for primary long-term storage it adds a very cool new element to the mix: data tapes. When archival packages are first stored, they land on the cluster of disks, but are shortly thereafter copied to data tape, a process that is automated by software (and robots!).

Un video di un archivio a nastro molto simile a quello descritto: