Digital Media Rescue in Tohoku

Mark Nornes amnornes at
Wed Apr 6 17:20:43 EDT 2011

A senior conservator at the LOC forwarded this to the AMIA list. It has rather provocative implications for our field, as more and more moving image work resides in digital formats and not celluloid. 


 March 28, 2011

  A short message from Tohoku:

  As you know, the Great Tohoku Kanto earthquake recorded M. 9.0
  and the number of dead and missing people has already hit over
  20,000. The earthquake suddenly took from us a large number of
  people and friends and also their property and peaceful lives.

  Many people have been working hard despite the cold, and
  shortage of food and supplies to prevent more loss, myself

  Allow me to send a message to colleagues in the library,
  archive, and conservation fields all over the world to tell of
  what I have been seeing and experiencing here.

  To begin, I would like to thank everyone all over the world who
  has been supporting Japan and the Japanese in many ways.  It's
  been about three weeks since the disaster occurred, and food and
  supplies have gradually been provided and infrastructure
  including electricity, water, gas, and public transportation has
  been recovering day by day.

  On the other hand, I have been seeing a delay in the rescue of
  information.  What made me so sad was that a concrete back-up
  system and plan to preserve and/or rescue digital components had
  not been created in Japan and therefore we are currently very
  much anxious over how much digital information will be lost.
  While federal and local governments proceeded with creation of
  digital information, such as e-government, digital libraries,
  and digital archives, in collaboration with big corporations
  (Microsoft, Apple, HP), neither government nor corporate could
  provide a system or guideline to rescue or recover these digital
  components right away.  People were left not knowing how they
  should treat the water damaged electronic/digital equipment and

  I fully understand that rescuing people is always the first
  priority.  Therefore, many medical shelters were set up right
  away all over Tohoku.  At the same time, I think rescuing this
  digital information is as important as rescuing lives.  There
  are only a few specialists who have been volunteering to answer
  people's questions and try to let people know what to do.  I
  would never give up and will continue to recover digital
  information even though I have to fight with shortages of funds,
  specialists, facilities, and equipment.  I hope we can recover
  as much information as possible before it's too late.

  I solicit people to learn the issues of protecting and
  preserving digital information from this disaster in Japan.  Any
  assistance or help from anywhere in the world would be highly

  Isamu Sakamoto
  Specialist, JICA rescue team for tsunami disaster in Nangroe
      Ache Darussalam, Indonesia
  Paper Conservator
  philia_kyoto [at] yahoo__co__jp

A. M. Nornes
Chair, Department of Screen Arts and Cultures
Professor, Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
Professor, School of Art & Design
University of Michigan
North Quad 6F, 105 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608
Phone: 734-763-1314
FAX: 734-936-1846

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