POST: The CODATA Mission: Preserving Scientific Data for the Future

At Spellbound Blog, Jeanne Kramer-Smith has posted on a session from The Memory of the World in the Digital Age: Digitization and Preservation conference, sponsored by UNESCO in cooperation with the University of British Columbia and¬†held in September 2012 in Vancouver. Untangling the acronyms, Kramer-Smith identifies the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) as part of the International Council for Science. CODATA hosts the Data at Risk Task Group (DARTG), which seeks “to preserve scientific data that is in danger of loss because they are not in modern electronic formats, or have particularly short shelf-life.”

In¬†summarizing talks included in the session and helpfully linking out to presenters’ slides, Kramer-Smith also provides an opportunity to consider the implications of data preservation and loss– including for DH and libraries. As she notes in her summary of a presentation by D. R. Fraser Taylor and Tracey Lauriault, of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre at Carleton University, on “The Map as¬†Fundamental Source in the Memory of the World”:

“The¬†1986 BBC Domesday Book¬†[sic] was created in celebration of 900 years after William the Conqueror‚Äôs original Domesday Book. It was obsolete by the 1990s. A huge amount of social and economic information was collected for this project. In order to rescue it they needed an Acorn computer and needed to be able to read the optical disks. The platform was emulated in 2002-2003. It cost 600,000 British pounds to reverse engineer and put online in 2004. New discs were made in 2003 at the UK Archive.

“It is easier to get Ptolomy‚Äôs maps from 15th century than it is to get a map 10 years old.”

dh+lib aggregated content

This post was produced through a collaboration involving Jessica Brangiel and Chris Chelberg (Editors-at-Large for the week) and Sarah Potvin (Editor for the week), with editorial assistance from Zach Coble and Roxanne Shirazi. For further details on the dh+lib aggregation process, including a link to volunteer to serve as Editor-at-Large, see: