Écologie médiatique

Commentaire lucide (et donc combien utile) de Matt Kirschenbaum sur les positions extrémistes à propos de la préservation du patrimoine écrit. Il témoigne bien de la réalité actuelle : même si l’archivage électronique connaît des ratés et vieillit mal, le support papier n’est pas l’ultime solution. Tiré de la liste Humanist :

There’s often a kind of lop-sided materiality that holds sway in
discussions of digital preservation: on the one hand we’re quick to
point out how all the ugly realities of computing–the warts and
blemishes of hardware, software, and standards–conspire against the
notion of preserving anything digital; yet on the other hand,
counter-examples based on the preservation of printed artifacts tend to
come in form of idealized abstractions. « I can still read an Old English
manuscript. » Well yes, because its been kept in a climate-controlled
vault with access restricted to credentialled scholars. 500 years is an
awfully long time, no matter what the medium. Will the acid-free book on
the library shelf exist 500 years from now? Probably, if the thought
experiment consists in imagining that book in a vacuum. But think of
everything that’s being assumed here, starting with the ongoing
stability and homogeneity of « the library » as a cultural institution.
Assuming that « the library » is still recognizable as such in a few
centuries, however, it’s worth pointing out that when we want to find
the acid-free book we will do so via electronic (or maybe quantum)
records. For some this becomes the occasion, a la Nicholson Baker, for
insisting on the importance of keeping the card catalogs around; I
prefer to think of it as a reminder of what preservation really is.
We’re not dealing with a print vs. digital dichotomy here, any more than
we really were a decade ago when we liked to talk about the death of the
book and whatnot. We’re dealing with a media _ecology_ that’s in a
constant state of flux, with relations between different media shifting
and redefined through the advent of new material technologies. Any
sustainable approach to preservation, I would argue, starts with that
larger ecology, not with one specific medium or format. Matt