Demise Of Rocky Mountain News’ Archives A Warning Of ‘Digital Dark Age’

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Photo: Longmont fiber Internet
A spliced fiberoptic cable.

With more of our lives taking place online, there's growing fear humanity is entering a "digital Dark Age," where future generations may have little or no record of the 21st century.

A recent Atlantic article explores in the issue through the death of the Rocky Mountain News. In 2008, the paper's investigative series "The Crossing" was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. The next year, it was gone.

If a sprawling Pulitzer Prize-nominated feature in one of the nation’s oldest newspapers can disappear from the web, anything can. “There are now no passive means of preserving digital information,” said Abby Rumsey, a writer and digital historian. In other words if you want to save something online, you have to decide to save it. Ephemerality is built into the very architecture of the web, which was intended to be a messaging system, not a library.

Jamie Seemiller is an archivist for the Denver Public Library and works with digital projects. She spoke to Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel about keeping digital records intact.