Digitisation for the long term William Kilbride [email_address] Introduction From Orality to Literacy to ? (Digitality?) 7 challenges for the long term Digitisation for ever?
...the long term is perhaps trickier than we expected ... Volumes of data Complexity of data Requirements of data Expectations <ul><ul><li>IBM 305 RAMAC (1956) with 50 x 24” discs holding 4.4Mb Leased by IBM for $35,000 pa </li></ul></ul>
‘… of all the web sites referenced within Hansard between 1997 and 2006, 60 percent of the urls cited are now broken ...’ Amanda Spencer, National Archives Web Continuity Project
‘… the chances of anything coming from Mars ....’ Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
...good reasons for long term access ... Regulatory requirement Financial risk Opportunity cost Reputational cost Heritage loss
... many of these resources have lasting value and significance , and therefore constitute a heritage that should be protected and preserved for current and future generations. UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage
...from Orality to Literacy to ? (Digitality?) Language Orality Literacy Block printing Telegraphy Broadcast Personal Computing Networked Computing
...the ‘consequences’ of literacy ... Ong: the literate mind Goody: memory to written record Barton: literacy as social practice
... literacy as technology ... Distance Time Volume Tables and lists Ineffability vs orality Kingship Economy Priesthood
... literacy as social practice Literacy event Textual community Discourse Hegemonic vs orality Access to approved forms Rationality of conversion The Wigton Experience Prop to Elite culture Imperialism Instrumentalist education
A lesson from history The consequences of our work are neither inevitable nor neutral. They will be what we make them (every day). Digitisation is a social practice: it can be used for good and ill.
7 long-term challenges Digital information has little inherent meaning: it can only be rendered comprehensible by a combination of technologies and skills. The ongoing co-ordination of technologies and skills are at the heart of the preservation challenge.
The long term challenge 1 Access depends on the configuration of hardware and software and the capacity of the operator. Documentation can capture configurations: emulation or migration can create the conditions where access is possible.
The long term challenge 2 Technology continues to change creating the conditions for obsolescence. Technology watch services can give advanced notice of obsolescence. Migration and emulation reduce the impact of changes in technology.
The long term challenge 3 Storage media have a short life. Storage devices are subject to obsolescence. Storage media can be refreshed and can self-check. Storage densities continue to improve offering greater capacity at less cost.
The long term challenge 4 Digital preservation systems are subject to the same obsolescence as the objects they safeguard. Preservation systems can be modular and conform to open standards. Fitness for purpose can be monitored through time.
The long term challenge 5 Digital resources can be altered, corrupted or deleted without obvious detection. Signatures and wrappers can safeguard authenticity Security can control access. Copies are perfect replicas with no degradation.
The long term challenge 6 Digital resources are intolerant of gaps in preservation. Managed services can provide ongoing care. There are significant economies of scale and processes can be automated.
The long term challenge 7 We have limited experience. Rapid churn in technology accelerates our research. Policy makers and opinion formers are engaged This is a shared problem and we have active training programmes.
Projects in Scope 19th Century Pamphlets Online Archival Sound Recordings (2 ) British Cartoon Archive Project British Newspapers 1620-1900 Cabinet Papers, 1915-1978 Core E-Resources on Ireland Independent Radio News East London Theatre Archive First World War Poetry Archive Freeze Frame Historic Boundaries of Britain Moving Images in the Public Sphere John Johnson Printed Ephemera Pre-Raphaelite Resource Site Welsh Journals Online UK Theses Digitisation Project
When asked about how long their digital resources would be available for, JISC-funded projects said ... ‘ In perpetuity’ ‘ Indefinitely’ ‘ 50 years’ ‘ 10 years then elsewhere’ ‘ until 2014’ ‘ forever or for three years’ DPC/Portico/ULCC report forthcoming
Where ... is the master copy of the metadata? is the master copy of the principle content? are other copies held?
When ... How long do you expect content to be available for? (if) things go wrong what are the consequences?
How ... will the collection be created? maintained? migrated or emulated?
How (2) ... will the collection be updated ? Will the metadata be updated? do you track who did what? do you keep data synchronised?
Emerging Conclusions 1 Without a written preservation policy , the long-term benefits of a digital collection is at risk. Without collection and content management procedures , the long-term benefits of a digital collection is at risk.
Emerging Conclusions 2 Without a suitable digital preservation infrastructure , the long-term benefits of a digital collection is at risk. Without a plan for sustainability , the long-term benefits of a digital collection is at risk.
Emerging Conclusions 3 JISC’s 5 year rule for access to content Good content management is good content management Format is not specifically an issue
Emerging Conclusions 4 The size or an organisation is not a measure of success Partnership arrangements are critical: internal and external Synchronisation of content between delivery service and archive is hard
Emerging Conclusions 5 Projects focus on users: this a strength This programme has driven institutional development in preservation policy Asking projects to think about the long term is helpful
Digitisation for the long term: bland conclusions William Kilbride [email_address] Our legacy will be what we make it: it cannot be taken for granted. Digital preservation is not impossible: no excuses! The context and methods of digitisation have a direct bearing on preservation.