Friday, August 28, 2015

Digital Curation: think use, not preservation

Digital Curation: think use, not preservation. Jane Stevenson. Archives Hub blog. October 29, 2010.
     From a keynote presentation by Chris Rusbridge about the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) and  Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access. The most elegant technical solution is no good if it is not sustainable; digital preservation has to be a sustainable economic activity. The focus is on the economic and organizational problems. "It is not just about money; it requires building upon a value proposition, providing incentives to act and defining roles and responsibilities."

No one specifically ‘wants’ preservation; they want access to a resource.  Digital preservation represents a derived demand; it isn't easy to convince someone that they want preservation--you have to sell it on some other basis, such as selling others on the importance of providing use over time. Digital preservation is also ‘path dependent’, which means that your actions and decisions will change over time and they will be different as materials move through the life-cycle. Your actions today can also remove other options for all time.

Often the value of digital preservation is not recognized nor valued, so long-term preservation activities are often funded by short-term allocations. Usually it is not clear who has the responsibility for digital preservation so appropriate organization and oversight is essential for efficient ongoing preservation.

The task force reports that it is essential to:
  1. show a compelling value proposition; 
  2. provide clear incentives to preserve content; 
  3. define preservation roles and responsibilities.
Often people think that digital preservation is expensive, but we must remember that it is in fact relatively cheap when compared to the preservation of physical archives that often require acid-free boxes, rows and rows of shelving, secure, controlled search rooms.  "So, if the cost is actually not prohibitive, and the technical know-how is there, then it seems imperative to address the organisational issues and to really hammer home the true value of preserving our digital data."

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