Challenges of Archiving Electronic Records: The Imminent Danger of a “Digital Dark Age”

  • Richard Wato Kenya National Archives and Documentation Service
Keywords: Electronic records, Preservation


Modern society is faced with the glaring possibility of a future ‘digital gap’ where the electronic records preserved from yester years could not be retrieved due to a number of technical and policy factors. Chances are that there will not even be any paper surrogates for those electronic records as the practice has lately been the substitution of paper records with electronic ones without due consideration of the longevity of the latter. Computer users who normally look at the current use of electronic records without necessarily considering the preservation issues that need to be considered if these records are to be available for future use have accelerated this practice. This paper looks at the challenges that are likely to face the archivists in their endeavour to preserve electronically generated records. It also suggests issues that the archivist may consider in the preservation of these records. Archivists around the world have been giving warnings that computer files may survive long but the equipment to make sense of them may not. This era could become a “digital dark age” - a part of its collective memories forever lost.

ESARBICA Journal Vol.23 2004: 82-92

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eISSN: 0376-4753