Dr. David S. H. Rosenthal’s Blog

The Library of Congress says of Dr. David S. H. Rosenthal, “When David Rosenthal talks, people listen. They may not always agree with the Chief Scientist of the LOCKSS program based at Stanford University, but they engage with what he has to say.”

Dr. Clifford Lynch, introducing Dr. Rosenthal’s 2009 CNI plenary presentation said David has “certainly changed some of my thinking about digital preservation. I won’t promise that it will change yours but I will promise that whatever opinions you hold on it after hearing David will be far better grounded and far better informed.”

Dr. Rosenthal started blogging in 2007. Here is sampling of his most popular posts (and perhaps his most controversial posts).

Format Obsolescence

Dr. Rosenthal is on record criticizing the disproportionate resources digital preservation professionals spend battling the chimera of web format obsolescence. A common practice is prophylactic “normalization”. The file types subject to normalization are the most common, best established, mass publishing formats, which by definition are those formats least likely to become obsolete.

In October 2012, Andrew N Jackson, British Library reported on an analysis of 2.5 billion files dated between 1996 – 2010. His conclusion, “Our initial analysis supports Rosenthal’s position; that most formats last much longer than five years, that network effects to appear to stabilise formats, and that new formats appear at a modest, manageable rate.” (The Register).