My interest in Public History in general, and archiving more specifically, is focused upon digitization. Why? Actually, there are a number of reasons. First of all, it is critical to archival science in the twentieth-first century. Second, it is cutting-edge: who when entering a new field would not be attracted to the most innovative elements of that field? Third, there now exists the technology – both the equipment and the processing power — to accomplish digitization on a wide scale in at least a somewhat economically feasible manner, something that was hardly true even a decade ago. Fourth, there is a compelling need for it: our paper records are deteriorating every hour through the entropy enshrined in the second law of thermodynamics. Finally, it interests me: I own a computer business and I hold a Master’s Degree in Public History – digitization of archival records is to my mind the perfect marriage between technology and history. I will discuss all of these in the course of this essay, although not in any particular order. For the sake of focus and a degree of brevity in what is, after all, a very large topic, I will confine the discussion of digitization to paper materials; digitizing analog audio and video resources is a huge sub-topic unto itself.
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Digitization For the Contemporary Archivist