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Op Ed

Technologizer - Why History Needs Software Piracy. Thanks Ant via VC&G.
Software pirates promote data survival through ubiquity and media independence. Like an ant that works as part of a larger system it doesn’t understand, the selfish action of each digital pirate, when taken in aggregate, has created a vast web of redundant data that ensures many digital works will live on.

Piracy’s preserving effect, while little known, is actually nothing new. Through the centuries, the tablets, scrolls, and books that people copied most often and distributed most widely survived to the present. Libraries everywhere would be devoid of Homer, Beowulf, and even The Bible without unauthorized duplication.

The main difference between then and now is that software decays in a matter of years rather than a matter of centuries, turning preservation through duplication into an illegal act. And that’s a serious problem: thousands of pieces of culturally important digital works are vanishing into thin air as we speak.

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8. Re: Op Ed Jan 27, 2012, 17:05 eunichron
 
There already is a massive effort from libraries across the world to digitize historical documents. The biggest issue is copying the original documents without damaging them, or exposing them to processes that might have a negative effect on their original medium. The issue now isn't, "We need to preserve these documents!" it's making them public so that one doesn't require the credentials to access the academic databases.

I never would have been able to complete my senior History capstone if it weren't for Oxford's digital library. But, I am what is known as a document fetishist, and there is something just downright sexy about paging through a 150 year old census book in the backroom of a special collections library while wearing white gloves . We need to preserve the original documents just as much as they need to be digitized and made public domain.
 
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