The chapters on file formats have always been the heart of the book in my plans. The real work has been to stop them from taking over. They’re one of my strongest areas of expertise, but format issues aren’t the whole of digital preservation, especially for non-programmers. They are important, though. Save a file in a format that no one will be able to read in ten years, and you’ve got a problem if you hoped they would.

I think I’m doing a decent job of covering other areas — backup, uses of the Internet, recovery, DRM, etc. — but reviewing formats and how they fit in a preservation strategy will be an important part of the book. I’m addressing issues such as how widely implemented they are, how standardized they are on paper and in practice, what support they have for metadata, whether they’re encumbered by patents, and how software supports their preservation-related features.

Along the way I’m bringing my own knowledge of these formats up to date. Writing about something is one of the best ways to solidify your knowledge of it.