Plenty of blame to go around, and you may be sure there will be lots of finger-pointing, not all of it unearned. Besides the easy lessons to be learned here, there are also a few that aren’t quite so easy, not quite so obvious. Among them:
- Collection is not necessarily preservation. It doesn’t do anybody any good to collect ancient Egyptian artifacts only to have them go up in flames.
- Libertarians and Ronald Reagan to the contrary, there are some things that should not rely upon private efforts, and that cannot be done well without support for public institutions.
- Beyond the need for digital archiving to reduce the risk of total destruction, there is the question of how our human history can be seen whole when the bits of evidence are scattered all over the place and collated nowhere.
In any case, a tragedy.