Digital has given me a lot: remote access has changed my life for the better; I can see, hear and talk to people from around the world; I can make things and remake things. But there has always been the thought that it could disappear in a second in a way that physical things don’t.
The issue was brought to mind just now when reading this A-N article about the potential demise of a physical slide archive at Manchester School of Art. The article on the dedicated blog – here – outlines one of the pressures that digitisation has brought along with its benefits – saving money. This has resulted in a proposal to do away with Manchester’s physical slide archive and just keep a digital one. Surely the powers that be can see that the digital archive isn’t the same thing as the physical archive but rather a virtual copy of it and so there is a real need to keep the original physical archive?
What will happen if everyone follows this path? Will my great grandchildren only know sculptures and paintings in their virtual form? Too much history will be destroyed if we replace the physical with digital copies.
Digital is good, no it’s great. But surely we need both the physical and digital just in case the lights go out and the history of digital is one that just sits on redundant hard drives never to be access or known about again….
Long live digital, but not at any cost.