Presentation given at MathFest, August 8, 2015, Washington, D.C. From the submission abstract: Libraries, archives, and museums have traditionally preserved and provided access to many different kinds of physical materials, including books, papers, theses, faculty research notes, correspondence, and more. These items have been critical for researchers to have a full understanding of their fields of study as well as the history and context that surround the work.
However, in recent years many of these equivalent materials only exist electronically on websites, laptops, private servers, and social media. These digital materials are currently very difficult to track, preserve, and make accessible. Future researchers may very well find a black hole of content: discovering early physical materials and late electronic records, but little information for the late 20th though early 21st Centuries. In other words, a portion of history, including the field of Mathematics, may be lost unless this electronic content--perhaps some content you have right now--is cared for properly.
The presenters will cover the issues surrounding Digital Preservation, including steps needed to make sure data is reasonably safe. Additionally they will pose a small number of discrete challenges and unsolved problems in the field of Digital Preservation, where Mathematicians may be able to help with analysis and new algorithms.