Monday, February 12, 2007

Digitalization: Two Comments

Comment 1: Preserving the Past: The Digital Way

The Library of Congress’s continued project to digitalize fragile book collections and United States history volumes gives all the semblance of being an important and revolutionary step in the preservation of historical documents. Despite the fact that the documents will be preserved for as long as the internet and other digital resources exist the originals may be lost forever. Can certain fundamental aspects of the originals be transferred to the digital preservations? To fully understand the importance of primary sources requires full examination of the originals for the texture, weight, coloration, and condition of the paper. Not only is there a question of whether or not the sources are accurately preserved or not there also remains whether or not they will be used as digital sources. For there exists a plethora of historical resources on the internet and many individuals do not spend the time to distinguish between the authentic resources of the Library’s project and other unreliable sources of information such as Wikipedia. I hope that the weight of the name of the Library of Congress can be enough to place reliability behind the project giving people incentive to use them over other internet sources. (Comment is pending moderation on blog post)

Comment 2: Study on Wikipedia accuracy in History

The historical accuracy of internet resources has been a contested topic in academic circles between both instructors and students in the historical field. When presented with a new assignment automatically students turn to the internet as their first source of research. An initial search of most topics typically provides Wikipedia as a top source without having the professional knowledge to know whether or not the information is accurate and the strong academic competition to find that one fact that sets one paper apart from another with a revolutionary idea many students find it difficult to question what they are reading on the screen. Being a student of history I have learned through my experience to question Wikipedia, but I find that many of my contemporaries find it difficult to know what to question and what not to question when using online resources. To know that the site holds a much substance as a Reader’s Digest makes the understanding of its reliability clear. However, there should exist a guide to know what sources to trust and what sources to be skeptical of for students when they are conducting research, for as this post points out in some aspects Wikipedia is more informative then Encarta.

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