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Digital conversion and storage October 31, 2006

Posted by McStorian in ClioWired.

These are some of the issues that my office deals with every day, especially as an office that attempts to be on the front lines of history profession (but then what office doesn’t?).  But most of these things seem pretty straight forward.  Any publisher will tell you that photos need to be roughly 300ppi and preferably tiff.  If the image is small, then crank it up to 600ppi.  The problem isn’t so much the conversion to digital format that we find to be a problem (making a searchable PDF these days is no problem at all), it’s the retrieval of usable digital files from the field.  Corps employees and soldiers in Iraq will send back digital pictures that are 5×7″ 72ppi.  We can throw those on our website, but we can’t use them in a book unless we make them really tiny.  Another issue is the ridiculous amount of superfluous information that digital technology allows us to create.  In doing a history of TF-RIE (Task Force Restore Iraqi Electricity), the Gulf Region Division sent us all of their unclassified source material in one small box – 170GB of material on a hard drive, which wasn’t well organized – just thrown on there.  Some of the files are nearly identical to others with maybe 1 correction.  For example, imagine uploading every draft of your last major paper you wrote.  I think I have about 10 different versions of my D.C. Sewer paper and maybe 5 different versions of the presentation.  Now imagine getting that for an entire Army Division over a 3 year period.  Anyway, I think I got off topic.  My point is, there’s so much and although creating and preserving it is important, it seems like organizing it takes much more energy and labor expense.



1. Josh Greenberg - October 31, 2006

You’re spot-on, here – one of the consequences of the ubiquity of digital materials is that the costs shift from storage to categorization and organization.

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