Friday, March 21, 2008

Digital Preservation Matters - 21 March 2008

The Fifth Blackbird: Some Thoughts on Economically Sustainable Digital Preservation. Brian F. Lavoie. D-Lib Magazine. March 2008.
The article looks at digital preservation as an economically sustainable activity. This is an area that has had little progress. There has been little discussion or systematic analysis on how to make it last after the current funding ends. A task force and website has been created to examine those issues. While some contend that the answer is a Simple Matter Of Resources, he feels the principles are not known; “we have not yet established a systematic mapping between general economic models of resource provision and particular digital preservation contexts.” The task force will look at the issue for two years and hope to make the choice between different economic models a little clearer. It is unlikely that most institutions will be able to develop a preservation ability, but it is likely that a network of preservation repositories will emerge. “The ease with which we create information in digital form tends to obscure the true cost of maintaining it over long periods of time. It has almost become a truism to say that our capacity to produce digital materials far exceeds our capacity to maintain them over time.”

Rethinking Personal Digital Archiving, Part 1: Four Challenges from the Field. Catherine C. Marshall. D-Lib Magazine. March 2008.

Technical discussions about digital archiving are usually based on two assumptions:

1- preservation will rely on the ability to render digital objects in the future

2- trusted repositories will be used to store and exchange these digital objects

Will this really address the needs for consumers? Individuals rarely think that their own stuff needs preserving, or they may use various methods to put the objects in a ‘safe’ place. Benign neglect is the most common attitude. “Digital belongings are ultimately stored according to what people are planning to do with them….” The same characteristics that make digital assets attractive make the digital stewardship more difficult.

Rethinking Personal Digital Archiving, Part 2: Implications for Services, Applications, and Institutions. Catherine C. Marshall. D-Lib Magazine. March 2008.

Archiving services and applications must be able to assess value in a way that makes intuitive sense to individuals in the future. Digital assets are often in different locations, so creating a union catalog of the objects is an urgent first need. Many assume that digital stewardship is simply storing the data once and viewing it sometime in the future. Regular maintenance is needed, such as checking and refreshing media, migrating files to better formats, and virus and malware checks, etc. “It is more important to know what we have and where we've put it than it is to centralize all of our stuff into a single repository.”

IT is Not Responsible for Records Retention. Brian D. Jaffe eWeek Midmarket. March 10, 2008.

Deciding which records to keep on regulatory grounds and how to save everything in case of disaster are not compatible skill sets. A backup strategy is not the same as a record retention policy. IT should be responsible for backup, but not the content, which would mean they would need to know the content of the documents, how long they should be kept, and what to do with them at the end of that period. A retention policy is also not a recovery mechanism. So there is a need for both. Saving everything is not an option technologically nor legally. IT is responsible for keeping the data safe. The users are the owners of the data and should decide what to do with it. A written policy is needed to know the different roles and requirements. “Data is the most valuable asset that IT is responsible for, but it is a responsibility that can't be borne by IT alone.”

Do you really know where your e-mail slept last night? E-Mail Compliance – What does it mean? Andy Whitaker. IT Security. March 4, 2008.

It is important to verify the integrity of the organization’s communication and provide auditability, especially with data protection laws. With the increased emphasis on electronic records, it is important to know what information is captured, if there have been alterations, if the data can be retrieved, and if you can show who has access to the archives.

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