The chief executive of the British Library is worried.
He fears that digital records — from the photographs on our personal computers to the records of political parties and businesses — are vanishing, that “historians and citizens of the future will find a black hole in the knowledge base of the 21st century.”
What is the answer? “People often assume that commercial organisations such as Google are collecting and archiving this kind of material — they are not. The task of capturing our online intellectual heritage and preserving it for the long term falls, quite rightly, to the same libraries and archives that have over centuries systematically collected books, periodicals, newspapers and recordings and which remain available in perpetuity, thanks to these institutions.”