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What to Preserve

Moving Images as Supertexts

Andrea Kalas, SVP of Asset Management at Paramount Pictures, sits down with Sam Gustman, Chief Technology Officer of USC's Shoah Foundation to discuss the lessons he's learned and the knowledge he's accrued for nearly 30 years in the digital preservation space. Gustman details the concept of "Supertexts" — important cultural content that lasts hundreds or even thousands of years, from the works of Shakespeare and Cicero to tomes such as the Quran, the Bible and the Torah — and the push to establish such assets in the moving image space. (After all, the first written words came 5,000 years ago, while the first moving images were produced only 140 years ago.) He also explains the ongoing mission of the Shoah Foundation, which is capturing and archiving testimonies and other content from survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, as well as his work in preserving academic collections at the USC Digital Repository. As an associate dean at USC, he says the future of libraries will be to afford pieces of cultural importance a chance to make it through time through stringent cataloguing principles, diversification of data centers, and the tapping of emerging technologies like blockchain to really utilize the internet as a preservation medium going forward. "Media rots," Gustman says. "It takes a lot of work to stop this stuff from going away.”

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