16.617 preservation by digitization

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Apr 15 2003 - 01:59:58 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 617.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 06:56:08 +0100
             From: Patrick Durusau <pdurusau@emory.edu>
             Subject: Iraqi National Museum Tragedy


    The news about the easily preventable looting of the Iraqi National Museum
    in the New York Times this morning was quite depressing. I have no
    expectation that the current US administration will be any more attentive
    to cultural artifacts in subsequent foreign adventures. Rather ironic that
    the robber barons of the 19th century funded any number of preservation
    efforts in the area but those who follow in their footsteps have no sense
    of culture at all. If it is not sold on a futures exchange or is a market
    for US goods or services, it is simply unworthy of preservation.

    Hopefully the shock of this loss will spur efforts to digitize entire
    artifact and manuscript collections with replicated copies around the
    world. It is obvious that we cannot rely on national governments to protect
    the common cultural heritage of civilization, so I suggest that scholars
    and academics take matters into their own hands. Writing protest letters
    and calling elected officials will do less good than imaging a single
    manuscript for replicated storage at multiple sites around the world. For
    every artifact or manuscript imaged and replicated, the chances of its
    total loss due to the excesses of any national government is greatly decreased.

    Suggestions for spurring such work forward?


    Patrick Durusau
    Director of Research and Development
    Society of Biblical Literature
    Co-Editor, ISO Reference Model for Topic Maps

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