Archives for the Future


Preserving information and data archives in the digital age presents a new kind of challenge. Physical books may degrade over time, but even a book in poor condition can be taken down off a shelf and read. Digital storage devices, however, require functional systems to access any of the data. VICE spoke with Abby Smith Rumsey, author of When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future, about the future of archiving information:

If I write my documents in Word, I own the content of the documents, but if Word goes away, there’s not much I can do about it. It’s owned by Microsoft. Libraries are having a really hard time with this. Copyright is one of the biggest problems in digital preservation and one which doesn’t get discussed at all because it sounds arcane.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →