History that is born digital has immense possibilities but is still relatively new which make its navigation as challenging as dealing with a newborn. As digital archives become more and more popular, they enter the forefront of the arguments of the future of historical preservation. Although the sheer amount of data gained cannot be ignored, the manner of collection and presentation of said materials requires finesse depending on the subject. Software like Omeka is used on many archival sites like The April 16 Archive, or The September 11 Digital Archive make the creation of these sites more tangible. Although all the data gathered might not serve specific historical purposes, some or perhaps most will to someone.
Just like any newborn, everyone has read the new books, and everyone believes they have it all figured out, but they do not. Just like there are several views on parenting, navigating through born digital history creates skepticism from certain family members. Many historians are still at odds-on how-to asses’ data that is born digital. The skepticism from this born digital data, stems in large part to what makes it unique and great. The possibility that this data can arrive from anywhere at any moment is the beauty and where the problem stems from. Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig assess in their book, the idea that although the medium of data gathering is different much of the same aspects of classic archival research remain. Authenticity has always been a challenge that historians have had to deal with and forgeries or misrepresentations, and so much more has to be considered. The methods applied, as established by Cohen and Rosenzweig, for proving authenticity in many cases still must pass through similar channels before publishing. This point of their argument did not leave me convince, as the possibility is still very open and can be missed depending on the volume of data
Learn to Crawl Before You Walk
When considering the possible addition that can be made to memories and their study for example, is very exciting. The study of a memory from its proximity to an event can lead to different historical perspectives and areas of study in the possible future. This is a great tool specially when considering the area of memory studies. Clarity can be a necessity when addressing what you are looking for, especially for born digital date. There are The September 11 website, which through its mission statement of “establishing a permanent record of the events of September 11” makes them cast a very wide net. Making this archive large, containing interesting and heartbreaking material, but of all forms not that easy to search through. Something similar happens in the April 16 website, this wide net and at times lead to sources with this title: “`ì´ë¯¼ìžê°€ ì €ì§€ë¥¸ ì‚¬ê±´ ì¸ì¢…ë¬¸ì œë¡œ ë²ˆì ¸ì„ ì•ˆ ë¼.”
The same way information can rest in an archive for years before a person can find its possible value, same things can happen with digital archives. There are still many flaws that have to be addressed, specially with regards to what can and should be published. Especially when considering the effect that this born digital data has on copyrights. Born digital data can help gather information that at the time might not seem important, but can serve some future endeavor. In the end what every parent should want of their child, a bright future.