Writing in LOST Magazine, Alexander Stille says that we are running out of time at the National Archives. Information stored in mechanical and electronic format is in danger of being lost forever.
The National Archives' Department of Special Media Preservation is a kind of museum of obsolete technology where Archives technicians try to tease information out of modern media that have long vanished from circulation. But the laboratory is more than a curious rag-and-bone shop of technologies past; in many ways, it offers a cautionary vision of the future. The problem of technological obsolescence — of fading words and images locked in odd-looking, out-of-date gizmos — is an even bigger problem for the computer age than for the new media produced in the first half of the 20th century.