“Until publishing a journal article, a computer model, or a musical analysis in digital form is seem [sic] as persistent and therefore a potentially long-lasting contribution to the chain of knowledge creation and use, few people will be attracted to work for reward and tenure in these media, no matter how superior the media may be for the research into and expression of an idea.”
-Abby Smith, “Preservation,” in Blackwell’s Companion to Digital Humanities (2004)
Do you agree with this statement, THATcampers? If so, what counts as “persistent”? And how long is “long-lasting?” Inquiring archivists want to know!
If you publish a journal article, there is good reason to believe it will be around for the next generations of researchers in your field. (LOCKSS is an example of efforts in this area). But a multimedia digital work, even one that represents significant research contributing to a scholarly discipline, will not necessarily survive for a very long time unless planning for this is part of the project. (And often you still you have the type of problems posed by Craig for this THATcamp – see the post “Contextuality in Preservation.”)
I wonder if P & T committees take long-term preservation planning into consideration when evaluating work, or if most members of the academic community believe that a criterion for judging scholarship could be whether or not it has the capacity to occupy a persistent place in the “chain of knowledge creation.”
While some digital humanities projects are associated with programs in digital preservation (and I know of one journal, UVa’s Rotunda, that publishes digital work), it seems others have been funded and executed on an ad-hoc project basis with no plan even for short-term maintenance. This results in websites that no one maintains after they are “done” and digital works for which there is no plan for preservation and access. (Is this beginning to change?) Can or should a digital scholarly work be cited if it won’t be discoverable or accessible in 5 years? How about 10 years? 50 years? 100 years?