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A misconception about digital collecitons

by on October 9, 2012

I’ve noticed a common misunderstanding about digital collections.  Specifically about born-digital digital collections vs digitized digital collections.

The assumption is that when you scan something, the JPEG (PDF, or other similar small file) that you create and put online is the digital item.  The display file has been reduced in quality, usually.  This means that the original scans are probably higher quality and those are the ones you want to protect.

For born digital stuff, the assumption is that the born digital object is the thing to be preserved, but often they are in similar formats to the display formats for digitized stuff.  PDF’s are not a great archival format.  If the file gets corrupted, the whole file is corrupt.  JPEGS are notorious for losing information every time you edit the file.

A better method would be to have a policy that every born digital PDF get exported into TIFF files for archiving, and every JPEG have a TIFF equivalent made for archiving.

I would like it if venders stopped assuming I just wanted to preserve whatever was being displayed to the public.  If they made a system that would automatically extract Tiffs, and move the Tiffs to an archive, I’d be much happier.

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