Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Digital Preservation Matters - March 16 2010

Fending Off Digital Decay, Bit by Bit. Patricia Cohen. The New York Times. March 15, 2010.

This looks at the archival material, including digital, from an author that is on display at Emory University. It highlights what research libraries and archives are discovering, that “born-digital” materials are much more complicated and costly to preserve than anticipated. The “archivists are finding themselves trying to fend off digital extinction at the same time that they are puzzling through questions about what to save, how to save it and how to make that material accessible.” Computers have now been used for over two decades, but their digital materials are just now find their way into archives. The curator said “We don’t really have any methodology as of yet to process born-digital material. We just store the disks in our climate-controlled stacks, and we’re hoping for some kind of universal Harvard guidelines.” The challenges including cataloging the material, acquiring the equipment and expertise to access the data stored on obsolete media. Do they try to save the look and feel of the material or just save the content? The computer editing meant that there are no manuscripts with pages with “lots of crossings-out and scribbling”. The display is providing the “emulation to a born-digital archive” similar to reproducing the author’s work environment. Emory is providing $500,00 to produce a computer forensics lab to do this kind of work. Others are impressed with the emulation, but their focus is storage and preservation of digital content. One center is trying to raise money to hire a to hire a digital collections coordinator. Until then, the digital materials are unavailable to researchers.


More on using DROID for Appraisal. Chris Prom. Practical E-Records. March 10, 2010.

The information that DROID supplies is useful but the output not optimally organized for reuse. But by regularizing the DROID CSV output the information became sortable and more useful. DROID was also useful in identifying files that did not use the standard file extension for an application, also to find files that needed attention or need to be converted. And it was very useful in the appraisal process. With it, the major migration problems could be identified and it helped to weed out inappropriate, duplicate, or private content.


Data, data everywhere. Economist. February 25, 2010.

The world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is increasing rapidly. This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done but it is also creating a host of new problems. The proliferation of data is making them increasingly inaccessible. The way that information is managed touches all areas of life. The data-centered economy is still new and the implications are not yet understood.


Archon™: The Simple Archival Information System. Website. 15 February 2010.

Version 3 of this software has been released. The software is for archivists and manuscript curators. It publishes archival descriptive information and digital archival objects to a user-friendly website. Functionality includes:

· Create standards-compliant collection descriptions and full finding aids using web forms.

· Describe the series, subseries, files, items, etc. within each collection.

· Upload digital objects/electronic records or link archival descriptions to external URLs.

· Batch import data

· Export MARC and EAD records


Deluge of scientific data needs to be curated for long-term use. Carole L. Palmer. PhysOrg.com. February 24, 2010.

Data curation is the active and ongoing management of data through their lifecycle. It is an important part of research. Data is a valuable asset to institutions and to the scientific enterprise. Saving the publications that report the results of research isn't enough; researchers also need access to data. Data curation begins long before the data are generated, it needs to start at the proposal stage. Without the data there is the issue of replicating and validating a research project's conclusions. "Digital content, including digital data, is much more vulnerable than the print or analog formats we had before." selecting, appraising and organizing data to make them accessible and interpretable takes a lot of work and expense. "The bottom line is that many very talented scientists are spending a lot of time and effort managing data. Our aim is to get scientists back to doing science, where their expertise can make a real difference to society."


Is copyright getting in the way of us preserving our history? Victor Keegan. The Guardian. 25 February 2010.

In theory, future historians will have a lot of information about our age. In reality, much of it may be lost. Much of the information is on web pages, and they have a short life expectancy. The British Library has launched the UK Web Archive, which will guarantee longevity to thousands of hand-picked UK websites. But this is only a small part. “The issue of copyright is a global nightmare for anyone interested in digital preservation.”


"Zubulake Revisited: Six Years Later": Judge Shira Scheindlin Issues her Latest e-Discovery Opinion. Electronic Discovery Law. January 27, 2010.

This review of a case that addresses the issues of parties’ preservation obligations. Check here for the full opinion. The case revisits an earlier decision concerning e-discovery, or finding electronic documents, emails, etc, in court cases; obligations; and negligence for failure to keep records correctly. Some statements from the court opinion:

  • By now, it should be abundantly clear that the duty to preserve means what it says and that a failure to preserve records, paper or electronic, and to search in the right places for those records, will inevitably result in the spoliation of evidence.
  • While litigants are not required to execute document productions with absolute precision, at a minimum they must act diligently and search thoroughly at the time they reasonably anticipate litigation.
  • The following failures support a finding of gross negligence, when the duty to preserve has attached: to issue a written litigation hold; to identify all of the key players and to ensure that their electronic and paper records are preserved; to cease the deletion of email or to preserve the records of former employees that are in a party's possession, custody, or control; and to preserve backup tapes when they are the sole source of relevant information or when they relate to key players, if the relevant information maintained by those players is not obtainable from readily accessible sources.
  • The case law makes crystal clear that the breach of the duty to preserve, and the resulting spoliation of evidence, may result in the imposition of sanctions by a court because the court has the obligation to ensure that the judicial process is not abused.

No comments: