23 June 2016 | 10:00 - 16:00 St. Helen's Square, York | The Guildhall

Digital preservation literature identifies file format obsolescence as one of the main threats, if not *the* threat, to the longevity of our digital data. Files must be migrated or emulated as they become obsolete, to ensure that they can still be rendered and used in the future. As Jeff Rothenberg famously put it at the end of the 1990s: "digital information lasts forever—or five years, whichever comes first". More recently however, the community has grown more sceptical. Luminaries such as Chris Rusbridge and and David Rosenthal have challenged the perception that common file formats have, or will become obsolete, pointing to the lack of mainstream examples. Around the fringes however, file format issues *have* emerged, although perhaps not in the image of the catastophic obsolescence scenario that was envisioned at the end of the last century. The community *has* grappled with file format issues, but are they more about diverging or poor software support for ambiguous file format standards than obsolescence per se? It's a complicated picture!

So what actually is a file format? Does file format obsolescence exist? And most importantly, what risks should organisations be addressing?

This briefing day will gatecrash the confusing world of file formats, it will separate the reality from the dogma, and it will focus our minds on the real digital preservation challenges we are facing.

Participants at the workshop will:

  • Gain an understanding of what a file format is, and what really defines it
  • Begin to unpick the complex picture of file format obsolescence
  • Better understand the risks faced by digital materials over the long term
  • Discuss where our energies would be best focused in addressing digital preservation issues


Watch the Recording of Euan Cochrane's webinar presentation (Registered members only)

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