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March 2, 1998

Documentary explores digital information crisis

By Barbara McKenna

Texts still exist today that were created hundreds of years ago, and yet a plethora of information produced within just the last decade has been lost forever, a victim of the rapid-fire advances of technology. The Friends of the UCSC Library and the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Library will cohost a screening of a documentary on this topic. The program is entitled Into the Future: A Film and Discussion on the Preservation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age.

The film, produced by the American Film Foundation, screens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, in the Santa Cruz Central Library, 224 Church St. A discussion will follow, moderated by Alan Ritch, head of collection planning at the UCSC Library. Ritch is a member of the planning team for the California Digital Library and has lectured frequently on the challenges posed by electronic information resources (see one of Ritch's academic papers on the subject).

Academy Award-winner Terry Sanders directed the film, which is narrated by PBS journalist Robert MacNeil. The film addresses a major challenge of the Information Age--the preservation of our essential records and greatest works on fragile, ephemeral, and complex digital electronic systems.

The 30-minute film is a sequel to Sanders's award-winning Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record. It features interviews with such leading figures as Norton Utilities founder Peter Norton, father of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Susan McMahon, and New York Public Library president Paul LeClerc.

For more information, call (408) 459-5870.

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