With the upsurge of multimedia content in widely varying formats and substance, often short-lived, scope, access and resilience are the three aspects on which archiving should focus.
- The scope of archival activities is growing to cater to the complex text and audio-visual contents emerging as internet and transmission facilities gain in scale. Multimedia objects comprise many closely intertwined layers, adding to the complexity of their long-term preservation and making adaptation of access arrangements a matter of necessity.
- Sustainable access to this material, which is what archiving is all about, must be open and interoperable, technology and vendor agnostic. Orchestrating access using automatically-operating controlled and demanding AI-based systems, while not sacrificing security and integrity, is therefore a major challenge. Sacrifices of this kind, for inputs and outputs alike, would be unacceptable on so many levels.
- Whence the third aspect, the need to develop infrastructure and environments with even greater resilience. For this, archives will have to be able to cater to a variety of infrastructures (multi-location, multi-standard) while remaining self-sufficient and as economically independent as possible of unpredictable events. Infrastructure will also have to fit into an equation with a host of unknown quantities, one of the most worrying being power supply availability, in addition to the omnipresent security issues. Conserving knowledge irrespective of its digital format is another unknown factor with the proliferation of new, constantly-evolving multimedia objects.
History and the sheer volumes of data produced today, including data censored but still to be archived, have awakened the media to the need for contextualisation, debunking and comparison. And it is archives that can, at least in part, respond to this need.
For it is only by processing and archiving data that we can hope to understand events.
Head of the Technical Department, INA Collections Division