Posted by Kevin Ashley on December 16th, 2008
A recent post on the digital-preservation list indicates that at least one scholarly community has recognised the long-term scholarly value of online resources such as blogs, and the potential damage to future scholarship that might result from their loss. It draws attention to a symposium taking place at Georgetown University next year. The email says that the symposium:
…will build upon the fundamental assumption that blogs are an integral part of today’s legal scholarship.
and goes on to say:
This symposium will bring together academic bloggers, librarians, and experts in digital preservation …. Symposium participants will collectively develop innovative practices to ensure that valuable scholarship is not easily lost.
Join the conversation now by tagging items you think are relevant to this symposium with the del.icio.us tag FTLS2009.
It’s interesting to observe that this is an example of a community acting to preserve information of interest that is likely to be scattered over many institutions and none. (I suspect a fair amount of blogging in this area is done by practitioners who aren’t at an academic institution.) One of the concerns we identified in PoWR was that much material of this type was unlikely to be preserved as a result of institutional interests, unless one institution tried to bring materials like this into the remit of its special collections (and some have done this.)
The conference web site goes on to say:
This unique symposium will seek answers to the questions:
1. How can quality academic scholarship reliably be discovered?
2. How can future researchers be assured of perpetual access to the information currently available in blogs?
3. How can any researcher be confident that documents posted to blogs are genuine?
The symposium will include a working group break-out session to create a uniform standard for preservation of blogs, a document to be shared by bloggers and librarians alike.
That last goal of a uniform standard for blog preservation looks like a tall order and it will be interesting to see what emerges from this group, and what its wider relevance might be. But its a clear demonstration of the value of web material to some research communities, and their willingness to do something about it if their institutions can’t, or won’t, help them.