Today’s NYT has an article summarizing one of the issues I’ve been exploring over the last few years: what affect will the loss of personal documents created on personal PCs have on our historical and cultural record? As the NYT found, Even Digital Memories Can Fade. Even while businesses and professional archivists work to devise long-term solutions to digital preservation, PC users find themselves in trouble:

In the meantime, individual PC owners struggle in private. Desk drawers and den closets are filled with obsolete computers, stacks of Zip disks and 3½-inch diskettes, even the larger 5¼-inch floppy disks from the 1980′s. Short of a clear solution, experts recommend that people copy their materials, which were once on vinyl, film and paper, to CD’s and other backup formats.

Yet the the new formats themselves are not a panacea. They, too, will fade over time. Archivists who work with personal documents are going to be faced with quite a challenge over the next few years.