Tuesday 09 August 2022

Internet is not a reliable archive, Dutch organisations warn

3d abstract tunnelInternet may appear to be a massive online archive but in fact much information is being lost, Dutch organisations attending a Unesco conference in Paris say.

In particular, social media commentary, which says a great deal about trends in society and news events, will probably not be available for historic research in the future, the organisations warn in Tuesday’s Volkskrant.

‘We are emerging from the digital dark ages,’ Marcel Ras, programme manager of the national digital sustainability coalition says. ‘Much of the information from the early days of internet has gone for ever.’

‘We are happy if we find a diary from the Dutch golden age but today’s diaries – Twitter and Facebook – are the heritage of the future. However, no one is taking responsibility for this,’ said University of Amsterdam researcher Julia Noordegraaf.


However, digital documents are often more vulnerable than paper ones. Files vanish and floppy disks get damaged or become unusable, researchers point out.

The Unesco conference aims to pave the way for a rescue operation to ensure digital archives are not wiped out.

The Dutch sound and vision institute Beeld en Geluid archives some 300 Youtube films a year and copies some 7,500 Dutch websites.

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