Rensselaer leader will participate in Washington, D.C., symposium on preserving digital information

March 31, 2010

Troy, N.Y. - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Vice President for Research Fran Berman will help kick off and participate in an April 1 symposium on the challenges of preserving our digital domain for future generations. The symposium will take place at The Fairmont hotel in Washington, D.C.

The symposium - titled "A National Conversation on the Economic Sustainability of Digital Information" - follows the release in February of a report by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access. The task force, which Berman co-chairs, spent two years studying the challenges of preserving digital information in four areas of content: scholarly discourse, research data, commercially owned cultural content (movies, music, etc.), and collectively produced Web content (blogs, Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc.).

"The Data Deluge is here. Ensuring that our most valuable information is available both today and tomorrow is not just a matter of finding sufficient funds," said Berman. "It's about creating a 'data economy' in which those who care, those who will pay, and those who preserve are working in coordination."

A spectrum of national leaders from the Executive Office of the President, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian Museum, Nature Magazine, Google, and other organizations are scheduled to speak in discussions on each of the four content areas and a panel discussion on the economics of digital information. A full list of participants and a preliminary agenda can be found at

The symposium will also provide a forum for discussion of the recommendations in the Blue Ribbon Task Force's Final Report on economically sustainable digital preservation practices, which was issued in late February. The report is available online at
Those interested in seeing live presentations and discussions from Blue Ribbon Task Force symposium can register online at to view a non-interactive Webcast that begins at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access was formed in late 2007 to explore one of the most urgent issues of the Information Age: identifying economically sustainable solutions to the challenges of preserving the ever-growing amount of digitally based data. The Task Force is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in partnership with the Library of Congress, the Joint Information Systems Committee of the United Kingdom (JISC), the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and supported by Task Force member institutions.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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