In a March 10, 2007 New York Times article called “History, Digitized (and Abridged)” Katie Hafner writes about the fact that as much as we have available on the internet in terms of historic records, documents and visual representations of artifacts, there is an immense amount more that will never be digitized. The concern is that people looking for information will settle for the digital resources without taking the trip to the physical archives where millions of historic artifacts are wharehoused, thus missing important pieces of the accurate historic picture. Among the obstacles are copyright laws and the funds to get the job done and in some cases, the will to do it.
In my view, however, when materials were only available by traveling to their locations, far fewer people had access to the resources at all. Making digital versions available lets the public know that there even are resources that they should be looking for.
I agree with David Eun, Google’s vice president for content partnerships, who said, according to Hafner, “that rather than dwell on what is being left behind, he preferred to take a more optimistic view. We’re talking about a huge, huge universe of content. If you look at the glass as half-empty it becomes too overwhelming.”