Skip to content

Digital Preservation as Cultural Environmentalism?


Ten years ago Duke Law Professor (and now CC board member) Jamie Boyle coined the metaphor cultural environmentalism, drawing on lessons from the environmental movement for free culture and the legal environment that fosters or hinders free culture. A conference on Cultural Environmentalism at 10 was held at Stanford over the weekend.

Today at SXSW on the Digital Preservation and Blogs panel it occurred to me that digital preservation could be thought of as an instance of cultural environmentalism. To stretch the analogy, just as environmentalists care about species and habitat preservation, cultural environmentalists should care about digital preservation.

Preserved culture is not fossilized culture — so long as archives are not “dark” (inaccessible to the public) preserved culture can continue to be built upon. Creative Commons licenses lower the legal barriers to effective preservation. Excerpt from Requirements for Digital Preservation Systems in D-Lib Magazine:

If it is necessary for each and every journal, even a very cheap and easy negotiation gets expensive. Wider adoption of the Creative Commons license, which provides the permission needed for preservation and thus eliminates negotiation, could greatly reduce the cost of preservation.

By applying a Creative Commons license to your work you’re saying “please share” and (in some cases) “please remix” and also “please preserve for posterity” or more simply — “please backup!”

Posted 13 March 2006