Have Digital Technologies Reopened the Lindgren/Langlois Debate?

A trailer for Le Fantôme d’Henri Langlois, a feature documentary from 2004 that explores Langlois’s contribution to film archiving and education.

Title

Have Digital Technologies Reopened the Lindgren/Langlois Debate?

Reference

Spectator (ISSN 1051-0230 – not to be confused with The Spectator), vol. 27, no. 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 10-20.

Abstract

This essay examines the increasing use of digital imaging technologies by film archives to provide access to their holdings. It argues that two distinct forms of this technology are emerging: low quality, online access (e.g. through video sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo) and high quality offline media, principally the DVD and its higher resolution successors.  In conclusion, I suggest that archivists are increasingly having to battle the myth that vast quantities of footage can be made available at little or no cost using digital media, and that they remove the need for long-term preservation. By comparing the current debates over the use of digital technologies by archives with the Lindgren/Langlois debate of the 1950s and ’60s, I hope to show that the issue of whether preservation or access should take priority when their needs conflict is as relevant now as it was then.

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