Take an archivist, a computer program, and pile of shredded documents, what do you get? A puzzle to be solved!
NPR recently aired a story regarding how archivists are using a computer program to piece together old German Stasi (secret police) documents that were shredded when the wall fell. They shredded non-stop for three months, by hand and by machine. Through a German government sponsored program, over 15,000 sacks of these documents are being pieced back together.
You might think, what’s the point? I mean, these documents contain information about how people spied on their neighbors, friends and family. Should these spies, thus far unrevealed, be exposed by spending millions of dollars and thousands of man hours? Can we learn anything else if this puzzle is put back together? For the archivist, these aren’t the questions to be asked. The archivist asks do these documents have enduring value? Do they provide insight that would be beneficial to access for generations to come?
What do you think?
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