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  1. 1. Preserving Your Digital Assets: Preserving Your Investment Saturday, Apr 29: 10:30 AM-11:45 AM Chaired by: Stephen Chapman, Preservation Librarian for Digital Initiatives, Weissman Preservation Center, Harvard University Library, Cambridge, MA Presenters: Günter Waibel, Program Officer, RLG, Mountain View, CA Sam Quigley, Director, Digital Information & Technology, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA Jon Ippolito, Assistant Professor of New Media, University of Maine, Orono, and Adjunct Associate Curator of Media Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York In the networked age, museums create digital images of their collections for online and print publication, and accession new media artworks into their permanent collections. To ensure the return on these considerable investments, these digital surrogates and original works need to be described, managed and preserved. Guided by a strategic overview of projects, standards, and organizations beginning to address digital preservation issues in the larger cultural heritage community, you'll discover how to meet the policy and budget-line challenges of digital preservation. Endorsed by: Media and Technology Committee, Museum Management Committee, Curators Committee, Registrars Committee c/o Devon Pyle-Vowles, Collect. Mgr.
  2. 2. From Asset Management to Digital Preservation Günter Waibel, Program Officer, RLG, Mountain View, CA Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMS) • a technology (software) • emphasis: access and support of re-use o access assets for use over the lifetime of the current technological environment Trusted Digital Repositories • defining the system an organization and its people, commitments, policies, definitions and technological solutions create • emphasis: long-term retention o preserving the asset beyond the lifetime of the current technological environment • see RLG 2002, RLG 2005 Assertions: • DAMS does not automatically equal digital preservation • Digital Preservation is not primarily a technological problem Reading: • RLG (2002). Trusted digital repositories: Attributes and responsibilities. An RLG-OCLC Report. • RLG (2005). An Audit Checklist for the Certification of Trusted Digital Repositories. • ClearStory (2005). Museum Digital Preservation Initiatives (Survey). • IMLS (2006). Status of Technology and Digitization in the Nation’s Museums and Libraries. • Carol Vogel, “3 Out of 4 Visitors To the Met Never Make It To the Front Door,” The New York Times, March 29 2006.
  3. 3. The Case for Policy Development Sam Quigley, Director of Digital Information and Technology, Harvard University Art Museums The focus of my discussion will be the necessity of policy development to propel institutional will for the purpose of preserving digital representations of objects in the collections, sometimes referred to as surrogate images. In the museum context, preservation of these digital surrogates must be carried out strategically so that without too much extra effort, these expensively produced files can be transformed into assets and used in multiple ways, sometimes unanticipated. In order to develop a digital preservation policy – an inherently educational process – it is recommended that a broadly based committee be convened, including at least the following stakeholders: Library/Archives Head, CIM Manager, Head of Imaging, Senior IT Personnel, Head Registrar, Conservation Head, Records Manager, Curatorial Personnel, Senior Administrators, and quite possibly others such as the Graphics or Publications Director, Senior Educators, Slide Librarians, Corporate Counsel, Licensing Personnel, or PR Personnel. If your institution does not yet have such a written policy or a committee for its drafting, it is by no means too late (and you have a great deal of company). It is time, however, to come to a clear understanding of the degree of reliance on digital technology we all have come to accept. And, once having grappled with this reality, it is important to de-mystify the issue and develop realistic plans to periodically review the status of institutional digital assets and intervene for their long term preservation. This deliberative process will lead to a better understanding of the importance of creating metadata for preservation, and also the possible value of participating in a larger consortium operating a trusted digital repository. Considering that there will be very limited time to review digital preservation methodologies in any detail, the following very limited set of citations should be noted and may be useful to any committee developing policy. Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities An RLG-OCLC Report, May 2002 Digital Preservation Management Cornell University Library’s on-line tutorial Their additional reading page: The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) Harvard University Library’s Digital Repository Service
  4. 4. Can Museums Evolve As Fast As Their Assets? Jon Ippolito, Assistant Professor of New Media, University of Maine, Orono, and Adjunct Associate Curator of Media Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Culture on the cutting edge is not there for long, especially in this age of rapid technological progress and the seemingly equally rapid precession of aesthetic fashion. New-media artists who want their works to persevere have to choose the final form their research will take with that in mind. And they have two diametrically opposed choices: to cast their work in traditional genres like ink or bronze, or to trust code to survive by means of its executability. This talk examines an emerging field in which the contrast between these two alternatives is greatest: so- called 'a-life', or artificial life, the creation with a computer of organisms that exhibit lifelike behavior and parallel experiments with animate 'wetware.' Now, it's not at all obvious how to preserve art whose medium is E. coli or rat brains. But these slippery media serve as a litmus test for two critical questions: whether static or dynamic forms of preservation are most likely to safeguard the future of art; and whether museums are up to the challenge. References: Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito, At the Edge of Art (London: Thames&Hudson, 2006). Alain Depocas et al., editors, Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach (New York: Guggenheim Museum/Langlois Foundation, 2003). Free download from Variable Media Network,