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Networked Approach to Preserving Software

Jessica Meyerson

Jessica Meyerson

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Jessica Meyerson is Research Program Officer for Educopia Institute in Austin, Texas, United States


One of key characteristic of information infrastructure outlined by Star & Ruhleder (1996) is that is ‘becomes visible on breakdown.’[1] While software does in fact breakdown, requiring patches or upgrades, as digital materials move from active use to the reuse context of cultural memory organizations, software breakdown can be understood as the inability to support meaningful access to digital information (ie, scientific or social scientific data, born-digital manuscript materials, complex models of the built environment) due to software dependencies and their associated challenges. This breakdown not only shines light on software (as cultural heritage itself and a tool for accessing existing digital cultural heritage), it makes visible the social structures and practices in which software is embedded – is a comprehensive breakdown of social structures to support information access including communication, legal systems and markets. By thinking about software as infrastructure we gain insight into ways in which software preservation fits into broader digital preservation practice as well as approaches that may prove to be the most effective in addressing the challenges of software preservation.

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Towards a Philosophy of Digital Preservation

Stacey Erdman

Stacey Erdman

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Stacey Erdman is Digital Archivist at Beloit College, Wisconsin USA


Are archivists born or made? I suppose we’ll never know the answer to that question definitively, but I feel pretty confident that if there’s an archivist “gene” I’ve surely got it. I’ve been actively building a personal archive since I was old enough to understand what memories are.

Of course, coming of age during the rise of the personal computer presented me with challenges in this arena. I still own my first computer – an Apple IIc, along with the floppies that contain my clumsy attempts to learn to program in BASIC. When I went off to college in 1995, I purchased a used Macintosh Plus and dial-up modem; soon I was surfing Mosaic from my dorm room in Urbana-Champaign –  home to HAL 9000, the fictional computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I discovered BBSs, IRC, newsgroups, MUDs, and became a voracious e-mail correspondent. I dove headfirst into this new online life, but with time, I grew concerned about the astounding impermanence of it all. How was I to document the time I was spending in these realms?

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The Next Leg in the Preservation Relay

Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey

Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey work for the Portico digital preservation service which is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization in the USA


Portico, a service of the non-for-profit organization ITHAKA, is a preservation service for the digital artifacts of scholarly communication.  Portico’s original remit 15 years ago– one shared by many DPC member organizations – was to develop a sustainable infrastructure, both institutional and technological, that would support the scholarly community’s transition from reliance on print journals to reliance upon electronic scholarly journals – more generally, to ensure that scholarly literature, published in electronic form, remains available to future generations of scholars, researchers, and students.

The occasion of the International Digital Preservation Day is an opportunity for us to reflect both on the continuing challenges (and opportunities) in preserving scholarly literature, and what we think might be new challenges ahead.

Written into our institutional DNA is the requirement simultaneously to preserve content at scale, and to preserve it in a fiscally sustainable way.  Again, this is challenge we all share, across all the content domains we jointly seek to preserve. The sheer ever-increasing volume of content flowing into Portico was a major motivator for undertaking a two-year project, launched in mid-2016, to develop the next-generation Portico technical infrastructure project.

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Educating Digital Stewards

Rhiannon Bettivia

Rhiannon Bettivia

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Rhiannon Bettivia is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Information Sciences (iSchool) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


I frame this post as a set of considerations for developing training and teaching modules for students and trainees endeavouring to enter the field of digital preservation. I teach such a module 2-3 times a year, and my university offers it 4 times a year with the help of adjunct instructors. It is often full to waitlist room only, meaning we will send anywhere from 50 up to as many as 110 students through this course in a calendar year. Chris Prom, of the University Archives, related that he was once requested to teach a module on advanced arrangement and description of digital materials for the Society of American Archivists nine times in a single year. The trend here is pretty clear: there are plenty of practitioners in the pipeline, ready to enter our field and to steward us into the future of digital preservation.

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Brushing up on Digital Architecture, Design and Engineering Assets

Kate Murray

Kate Murray

Last updated on 1 December 2017

Kate Murray works for Digital Collections & Management Services at the Library of Congress in Washington DC


On November 16, 2017 the Library of Congress, Architect of the Capitol and National Gallery of Art hosted the Designing the Future Landscape: Digital Architecture, Design and Engineering Assets symposium at the Library of Congress. The programming for the over 140 attendees included panels on lifecycle data management, data flow, access use cases, future-looking approaches and an ADE formats primer.

Murray 1

The presentations were recorded for later distribution on social media platforms, including YouTube, and a report covering the themes of the day will be published in early 2018. See #DigADE2017 on Twitter for on-the-spot reporting during the event and links to published information will be widely distributed when available.

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DAM and LAM - towards convergence

Helen Hockx-Yu

Helen Hockx-Yu

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Helen Hockx-Yu is Program Manager, Digital Product Access and Dissemination in the Office of Information Technologies for University of Notre Dame, Indiana USA


INTRODUCTION

Digital media are frequently produced and widely used at the University of Notre Dame (UND) to support education and research, and to document campus activities and athletic competitions. UND’s media products range from photographs and simple sound or video capture to sophisticated footage appropriate for national broadcasts. UND’s video assets are presently estimated to measure ~2PB.

As part of a project aimed at developing a common solution for managing Notre Dame’s video assets, we gathered and documented requirements from a wide range of stakeholders on campus and used these to assess Digital Asset Management (DAM) software.

DAM software vendors seem to have picked a very broad term for a relatively small software products segment. DAM systems (DAMs) in general have a much narrower focus than the collective name suggests. Different variants of DAMs are difficult to differentiate, making it hard for organisations to select the right product.

DAMs are a breed of software that manages specific types of digital information within a specific organisational context. DAMs are mostly intended for multimedia or rich media, such as photographs, videos, animation, graphics, logos, and marketing collateral. DAMs emerged in the private sector to support digital media creation, marketing, publishing, and brand management.

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Operationalizing Digital Preservation: An Innovative New Curriculum

Kara Van Malssen

Kara Van Malssen

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Kara Van Malssen is Partner and Senior Consultant at AVPreserve in New York


I work at AVPreserve, a consulting and software development firm, where we focus on developing innovative solutions that advance the ways data and information serve individuals, organizations, and causes. Often, we are asked to come in to an organization and help them assess their digital preservation efforts, in order to move toward expanding capacity, scope, functionality, overall efficiency, or standards-compliance. We start by looking at their current digital preservation practices, evaluating technologies, policies, workflows, procedures, staffing/roles, and other resources. It is not uncommon for us to find that the organization is “stuck” in some respect, struggling to, for example, consistently collect all digital assets of value, implement comprehensive ingest procedures, or store all content in a managed preservation environment. And while the causes of these challenges vary between organizations, lack of funding is generally not the culprit. There are a variety of operational factors that need to be considered in order to implement successful digital preservation processes.

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The only archival digital document format

Duff Johnson

Duff Johnson

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Duff Johnson is Executive Director of the PDF Association and Project Leader for ISO 32000 in Winchester, Massachusetts, USA


What is a “document”? It’s a record of some (typically written) content - a publication, a contract, a statement, a painting - at a moment in time. Until the advent of computers (and scanners), the only media considered useable for such records were papyrus, vellum or paper pages.

PDF became the document format of choice for business, government and the general public because it delivers the key qualities of paper in a digital format. PDF is fixed, self-contained, readily shareable and relatively hard to change. It’s not just PDF’s innate characteristics that make it successful, but the fact that PDF interoperates smoothly with paper documents. The classic “PDF it, send it, print it, sign it and return it” type of workflow introduced new efficiencies when PDF surfaced into public consciousness in the mid-to-late 1990s. This approach used only the most basic of the format’s capabilities, but it was enough to enable the slow economy-wide transition to digital documents.

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The Emergence of “Digital Patinas”

Euan Cochrane

Euan Cochrane

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Euan Cochrane is Digital Preservation Manager at Yale University Library in the USA


Physical objects often have a “patina” associated with them that illustrates their age and authenticity and evokes an emotional response in ways that are in contrast with responses to brand-new objects.

“Patina (/ˈpætɪnə/ or /pəˈtiːnə/) is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of stonecopperbronze and similar metals (tarnish produced by oxidation or other chemical processes), [1] wooden furniture (sheen produced by age, wear, and polishing), or any such acquired change of a surface through age and exposure.” https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Patina&oldid=810608866

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Inform and Form – The Role of Education in Digital Preservation

Millard Schisler

Millard Schisler

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Millard Schisler is Researcher at Digital Culture Center / CEBRAP in São Paulo, Brazil


It is wonderful to celebrate International Digital Preservation Day and recognize how much has been accomplished during the past decades, while also realizing how much we still need to work on, evidenced by the people, businesses and institutions struggling with how to deal with their ever-growing digital assets. As I think about our role in transforming this landscape, I go back to the beginning of this century, when Nancy McGovern and Anne Kenney talked about the three-legged stool that was necessary for digital preservation to happen: the organizational infrastructure, technological infrastructure and the resources (human and material). You cannot sit on a stool with just two legs – we need all three to maintain a balance, and one cannot be larger or smaller than another if we are to make the stool functional. I have used this image so much in my talks. With this awareness, another image came into my mind once when preparing for a lecture – if we were to connect all three legs at the bottom, it would provide the stool with extra sturdiness; this strength would come from the role of education within digital preservation.

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