Saturday, January 30, 2016

Digital Preservation: A Technologist's Perspective

Digital Preservation: A Technologist's Perspective. Matthew Addis. DPC conference. Arkivum. 22 January 2016.
     A presentation on the application of technology, what it can do, how to use it, and the importance of using technology as a tool to do preservation. It also looks at the question: what I wish I knew before I started digital preservation. One thing is that technology is not the place to start: "digital preservation is primarily about people. It’s about people having the right skills. It’s about people having the right plans. It’s about people working as a team and doing something that’s more than they each could do on their own. Technology helps people do their job and people are the place to start."

It doesn't always help to look at what the large institutions are doing; they have more people and money to build complex digital preservation programs. Sometimes this turns into "preservation paralysis". Some quotes:
  • If you think that you’re not able to do enough or ‘do it properly’, then this can result in doing nothing because this feels like the next best thing. 
  • But doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. Delays cause digital data to become derelict. Neglect has serious consequences in the digital world – it’s not benign. A decision to do nothing or to delay action can be the equivalent of a digital death sentence. Or, if nothing else, it just increases the cost.
  • In the end, it’s people that are the biggest risk to digital content surviving into the future. People thinking that preservation is too hard, too expensive or tomorrow’s problem and not today’s.
  • "Digital preservation is an opportunity." It allows the content to be used by others and to become an asset. 
A frugal and minimal strategy to start with could be:
  1. Start with knowing in detail what digital content you have. 
  2. Decide what is important and store it in a safe place. The article uses the 3-2-1 rule: at least three copies in three separate locations with two online and one offline.
  3. Build a business case to get funding for preservation. If you don't have a budget, you can't take care of the content.  
  4. From there you can decide what else to do.
There are lots of tools, technology and guidance available. The best thing is to get started and not wait. Realize that digital preservation is an ongoing activity and doesn’t stop.

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