The paradox of selection in the digital age

WERF, Titia van der and WERF, Bram van der (2014) The paradox of selection in the digital age. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 138 - UNESCO Open Session. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


The paradox of selection in the digital age

With this essay, the authors aim to contribute to the digital preservation thinking by highlighting some of the aspects of the digital environment that seem pertinent to digital heritage. It gives a high-level perspective of changes in the way digital content is produced, consumed and perceived. With the massive shift towards open data and open access, the changes in the logic of economics and the thriving of digital consumerism, it asserts that digital waste production and the corresponding carbon footprint are becoming a huge challenge in the digital age. In particular, the authors state that since digital waste and assets cannot be distinguished from each other, this poses a greater preservation challenge than technology obsolescence or other digital preservation issues. According to them, the traditional models for selecting and preserving content as heritage no longer apply. Being digital flips the selection model from production filtering to consumption filtering. The authors propose the trias hereditaria – a collaboration framework between the information industry, the public authorities and the cultural heritage institutions – to balance the forces at play in the digital environment and to stimulate digital behaviour in positive ways. Raising awareness, cleaning-up waste and personal archiving are examples of measures that can help promote digital heritage. This essay is meant to be thought-provoking and to advance the collective thinking looking for answers to the challenges of digital preservation. To that effect, it is written in a style inspired by Nicholas Negroponte’s Being Digital and draws heavily from his work and terminology.

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