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Re: "Digital Dark Age"

 Sorry, Mr. Fletcher, in attempting to be brief, I was not, apparently,
clear.  My concern is in the digitized information, not the manufactured
disk.  We recently did a large digital scanning project here at the Law
Library and we do, in fact, keep a master disk which is not sent to the
manufacturer.  However, in the process of reviewing the quality of the
scanned material (these were cheaply printed books) it is possible to
use computer technology to enhance, clarify, and generally fiddle with
the data.  Good intentions aside, human error can enter in.  The master
disk is retained in case we want to do something else with the
information here.  We do not consider it a preservation format of the
original material, which, by the by, is being microfilmed.  The film is
the preservation format.  We also keep the originals, some of which are
not physically viable any longer.
  I am not a computer person, so I can't tell you how much expertise it
takes to make extreme changes to digitized material, or to what degree
it can be manipulated.  It is, I gather, rather like photographs in that
a convincing alteration can require technical skill and equipment.  In
any event, in the strict sense of preservation, the end product must be,
like Caesar's relatives, above suspicion.  I do hope that computers
become a medium for archival storage in future.  We just aren't there
  Dorothy Africa

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