In this section
What's New - Issue 33, February 2011
In this issue:
- What's on, and What's new
- Editorial: The Big Bamboozler (William Kilbride, DPC)
- Who's who: Sixty second interview with Dr Birgit Plietzsch, Arts Computing Advisor, University of St Andrews
- One world: Dr. David Giaretta, Director of the Alliance for Permanent Access
- Your view: Commentary, questions and debate from readers
Getting started in digital preservation
4 February 2011 (London) | 28 February 2011 (Glasgow)
Following on from the very successful 'Decoding the Digital' conference, the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition are delighted to invite you to the first of four events designed to raise awareness of digital preservation issues, increase involvement with digital preservation activities and sign-post the support and resources available to help you on your way. This event provides an introduction to digital preservation, builds an understanding of the risks to digital materials, includes practical sessions to help you apply digital preservation planning and tools, and features speakers sharing their own experience of putting digital preservation into practice.
Software preservation workshop
7 February 2011
There is increasingly a need to preserve software: for example software is sometimes needed to unlock accompanying research data and make it (re)usable, or software is often a research output in its own right. The workshop’s premise is that curators and software developers will need to collaborate to preserve software: the curator needing the technical knowledge of the developer, and the developer needing the preservation expertise and mandate of the curator. This workshop is intended to be the first ‘bridging’ event between these two previously separate communities – so ground-breaking in its own small way.
VADS Event: Look-Here! Project Conference
8 February 2011
This event is organised by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) to celebrate the work of the JISC-funded Look-Here! Project, which is working collaboratively to develop skills and strategies for digitisation in the arts education sector.
DC 101 Lite: Managing your Digital Research Data
10 February 2011
Funding bodies increasingly require plans to show that research data will be properly managed and shared, where appropriate. This workshop will provide an introduction to data management and the range of activities and roles that should be considered when planning and implementing research projects. Details of local support available and practical examples will also be provided.
Incremental Project Seminar: What does the Freedom of Information Act mean for Research?
16 February 2011
As part of the Incremental project we are running a series of fortnightly seminars centred around some of the day-to-day challenges that researchers are facing in managing their digital research data. We have range of speakers from different disciplines and perspectives, including researchers from the Arts, Social Sciences, Humanities and Sciences, who will explore a particular issue or theme through a mixture of presentations and discussion.
Incremental Project Seminar: Managing Performance Data and Documentation
17 February 2011
Research in the live and performing arts produces interesting and varied types of documentation and data, including text, images, audio and video. This seminar will bring together researchers and performers working in the live and performing arts across the UK, to inspire and provide guidance for better management of these materials.
Cataloguing & Indexing Group in Scotland - Metadata and Web 2.0 Annual Seminar
23 February 2011
This popular event will explore the use metadata within the Web 2.0 environment, and the impact of Web 2.0 on metadata.
IPR and Licensing: tips, traps and techniques
25 February 2011
The DCC will be running a half-day workshop in conjunction with the Naomi Korn Copyright Consultancy and the JISC MRD Programme on the copyright issues affecting the reuse of digital learning and teaching materials. Naomi Korn will explore practical copyright and IPR issues as identified by the RDMTrain projects in the course of developing training materials to improve postgraduate data management skills. The event will also feature an introduction to data licensing data by Alex Ball, DCC.
Getting Started in Digital Preservation
28 February 2011, Glasgow University, Glasgow
Following on from the very successful 'Decoding the Digital' conference, the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition are delighted to invite you to the second of four events designed to raise awareness of digital preservation issues, increase involvement with digital preservation activities and sign-post the support and resources available to help you on your way. This event provides an introduction to digital preservation, builds an understanding of the risks to digital materials, includes practical sessions to help you apply digital preservation planning and tools, and features speakers sharing their own experience of putting digital preservation into practice.
DCC Roadshow: Institutional Challenges in the Data Decade
1-3 March 2011
The DCC is organising a series of inter-linked UK workshops aimed at supporting institutional data management, planning and training. The events will run over 3 days and will provide institutions with advice and guidance tailored to a range of different roles and responsibilities. The workshops are free and can be booked individually.
3-4 March 2011
This two-day workshop brings together researchers who use software, funders and software developers. Its goal is to provide attendees with everything needed to create successful collaborations. It’s the perfect forum for people to discuss their research and their project’s requirements, and then meet the people who can fulfill those requirements.
Screening the future: New Strategies & Challenges in Audiovisual Archiving
14-15 March 2011
Screening the Future 2011 will connect small and large archives, service providers, vendors, funders, policymakers, and educators developing solutions to the most urgent questions facing audiovisual archives.
JISC Conference: Financial challenges - digital opportunities
14-15 March 2011
For the past nine years the JISC annual conference has been bringing expertise and knowledge to over 750 senior managers, academics, library professionals, teachers, policy makers and IT experts from across education in the UK and internationally. The 2011 programme consists of a variety of keynotes, sessions, worskshops, demonstrations and exhibition stands providing delegates with the opportunity to seek advice, guidance and inspiration to realise the potential of their existing technologies within their institutions.
Getting Started in Digital Preservation
21 March 2011, Glamorgan Archives, Cardiff
Following on from the very successful 'Decoding the Digital' conference, the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition are delighted to invite you to the third of four events designed to raise awareness of digital preservation issues, increase involvement with digital preservation activities and sign-post the support and resources available to help you on your way. This event provides an introduction to digital preservation, builds an understanding of the risks to digital materials, includes practical sessions to help you apply digital preservation planning and tools, and features speakers sharing their own experience of putting digital preservation into practice.
Timescapes Secondary Analysis Workshop: Doing secondary analysis of qualitative data
28 March 2011
The workshop is designed to offer training in the method and practice of secondary analysis of qualitative data. It uses the new ESRC Timescapes Data Archive as a platform.
RSP Workshop: Supporting and Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education
28 March 2011
This half day event will focus on the findings of two recent and complementary research projects funded by the JISC: Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education undertaken by University College London (UCL) and a study by the British Library: Gathering evidence of the benefits of increased visibility and impact of open access theses which evaluated the impact of the Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS).
Preserving Digital Art
30 March 2011, London (Venue to be confirmed)
Emerging tools and services for digital preservation are typically built around the long-term needs of archives, libraries and research centres. The needs of art museums and galleries are surprisingly absent from much of the debate in digital preservation even though these institutions have considerable skills and statutory requirements to safeguard large collections for private and public good. Innovations in contemporary art means that the traditional skills of the conservator need to be supplemented, and in some cases radically changed, to take account of new and sophisticated forms of digital creativity. Moreover its subtle and complex demands means that preservation of digital art offers a practical basis for innovation and assessment of the sorts of tools and services which will be required to ensure our digital memory is accessible tomorrow. This DPC briefing day will provide a forum for members to review and debate the latest development in the preservation of digital art. Based on commentary and case studies from leaders in the field, participants will be presented with emerging tools and technologies and will be encouraged to propose and debate new directions for research.
Preserving Digital Sound and Vision
7 April 2011, British Library, London
Emerging tools and services for digital preservation are typically built around the need to preserve texts, documents, images and data sets. Audio and video – broadly defined as time-based-media - have received less attention within the library and archive communities, partly because they have historically been seen as distinct, partly because they present new technical challenges, and partly because they have hitherto represented only a small proportion of the collections which memory institutions and research archives collect. However, the simplicity with which digital video and audio can be captured and the ease and popularity of online distribution means that they are now ubiquitous, creating new concern for long term access. As more and more of our cultural and scientific legacy is being created in digital audio-visual formats, so those managing long term access to data need to understand the challenges and opportunities which these formats bring. New skills and new techniques will be required to ensure our digital audio and video memory is accessible tomorrow. This DPC briefing day will provide a forum for members to review and debate the latest development in the preservation of digital sound and vision. Based on commentary and case studies from leaders in the field, participants will be presented with emerging tools and technologies and will be encouraged to propose and debate new directions for research.
Getting Started in Digital Preservation
15 April 2011, Innovation Centre, York
Following on from the very successful 'Decoding the Digital' conference, the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition are delighted to invite you to the fourth of four events designed to raise awareness of digital preservation issues, increase involvement with digital preservation activities and sign-post the support and resources available to help you on your way. This event provides an introduction to digital preservation, builds an understanding of the risks to digital materials, includes practical sessions to help you apply digital preservation planning and tools, and features speakers sharing their own experience of putting digital preservation into practice.
Sharing research data to improve public health: joint statement of purpose
A group of major international funders of public health research have committed to work together to increase the availability of data emerging from our funded research, in order to accelerate advances in public health. A joint statement of purpose sets out the principles and goals through which our organisations will work to further this shared vision.
Licensing and copyright charts from OER IPR Support Project
The OER IPR Support Team is pleased to announce the release of two new process charts designed to help JISC/HEA funded OER projects deal with the IPR and Licensing issues associated with their OER. The charts provide navigation through the IPR and licensing issues associated with OERs as well as through the resources that the OER IPR Support Project has developed to address the issues that might arise.
LoC Digital Preservation Newsletter
The January 2011 Library of Congress Digital Preservation Newsletter is now available. This issue features the Top 10 List of Digital Preservation Developments in 2010 and a Recap of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Organizing Workshop.
PREMIS version 2.1 is now available
The PREMIS Editorial Committee is pleased to announce the availability of the PREMIS Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata version 2.1. The current revision includes corrections of errors, clarifications of some semantic units, changes for consistency, and the addition of a few semantic units that resulted from requests to the PREMIS Editorial Committee. This revision is considered non-substantial in that there are not major changes that affect existing PREMIS descriptions, so is an incremental version 2.1. Both the full data dictionary and the schema are revised.
A Researcher-Centric Version of the KRDS Digital Preservation Activity Model: the I2S2 Project
The Infrastructure for Integration in Structural Sciences (I2S2) Project has been using the Keeping Research Data Safe KRDS Activity Model as a basis for costing and benefits analysis. One of the outputs has been an “Idealised Scientific Research Data Lifecycle Model”, which seeks to extend and adapt the model from a “researcher perspective” to reflect research data management or the digital preservation lifecycle in its broadest interpretation.
Digital Curation and Preservation Bibliography, Version 2
Version 2 of the Digital Curation and Preservation Bibliography is now available from Digital Scholarship as an XHTML website with live links to many included works. This selective bibliography includes over 500 articles, books, and technical reports that are useful in understanding digital curation and preservation. All included works are in English. It is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
The latest issue of D-Lib's features a range of articles on managing and curating research data:
CLOCKSS Appoints New Executive Director
Randy S. Kiefer has been appointed the new Executive Director of CLOCKSS. Randy is the Principal Consultant in the Kiefer Strategy Group, LLC, which handles business development efforts for publishers like INFORMS, the American Accounting Association, the Military Operations Research Society, and others. From 1999 to May of 2010, Randy served in various roles at INFORMS. For his last three years, he was the Director of Subscription, Membership, and Technical Services at INFORMS, and his primary activity was developing the global library market for INFORMS' twelve journals.
January issue of Jorum e-Review
Jorum’s latest e-newsletter brings some of the new and exciting developments due for release over the coming months. It also highlight a few learning and teaching resources found within Jorum, based around this months theme - health, medicine and nutrition.
Video of session on NSF Data Management Plans from 12/10 CNI meeting now available
Videos from the CNI Fall meeting session on "NSF Data Management Plan Requirements: Institutional Initiatives" are now available. Presenters' slides and other materials are available at http://www.cni.org/tfms/2010b.fall/Abstracts/PB-nsf-goldstein.html.
Editorial: The Big Bamboozler (William Kilbride, DPC)
There is a slowly unfolding paradox in digital preservation.
On one hand we’ve had more than a decade of research and development that has scoped underlying problems, proposed solutions and made those solutions real through the rapid development of the tools and services. Digital preservation is now a capability within the reach of any well designed information architecture and is rapidly moving from design to implementation. This is progress by any standard, especially given the growing demand for such tools and services from the many agencies interested.
On the other hand, the multiplication of projects and services can itself become a problem. This observation is especially true for small or short-term projects that use or create new jargon and acronyms that obfuscates their value, and whose short turn around necessitates a communications plan barely distinguishable from a ‘shock and awe’ assault. Or worse – nothing at all.
Success is not simply a function of whether a new tool or service provides the functions specified in the original requirements document. This is not a criticism of the projects or their sponsors, it’s just a reflection of how quickly the community has developed. Fragmentation is a real risk – a risk that will take practical shape in the proliferation of incommensurate standards, the development of monolithic systems that can’t interoperate, or the profusion of research into problems already solved. That’s not just bad news for us, it’s arguably worse for the people we aim to help. There’s a risk that our well-intentioned enthusiasms will take a daunting challenge and make it even more complicated.
Let's be clear - there are multiple routes to long term preservation and the impact that it brings. Variation is not only a good thing, it's a sign of maturity. We don't all have the same goals and expectations for our preservation services and so we shouldn't all have to work the same way. The problem comes when staff leave one institution with highly developed skills that they can't apply in an another. It's a problem when you can't reliably post data to another repository, nor can colleagues trust you with data they need looking after. It's a problem when there are multiple standards that claim to offer the same thing. It's a problem when you recruit a recent graduate whose teaching does not include any of the core functions you expect of them. It happens when we don't speak to each other enough.
There are obvious things we can do about this. The simplest approach, and one that the DPC excels at, is to make sure that latest research is communicated in concise, accurate, timely and accessible chunks to a knowledgeable and interested community. This was the original purpose of ‘What’s New’ as well as publications like our Technology Watch Reports and Digital Preservation Case Notes series. The demand for such publications can be measured vicariously through the demand for simple accessible events. In 2009 and 2010 the DPC and colleagues at TNA, the Society of Archivists and others were pleased and perhaps a little concerned by the demand for places on the ‘Digital Preservation Roadshow’. We ran eight introductory events on digital preservation for archivists in eight different cities in the UK and Ireland over eight months. We could easily have run another eight in eight more cities. At the start of 2011 we announced a similar tour with colleagues at the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre. A steady stream of applications in late December quickly turned frenzy and by mid January we had to move the London event to a larger venue. The demand for accessible, practical advice seems to be growing faster than our ability to provide them, though not as quickly as our ability to create really neat jargon for tools that almost work.
The DPC also excels at bringing together experts and practitioners to discuss problems and concerns, reducing the sort of isolation which fragmentation thrives upon. We’ve just finished a very productive planning day, and will shortly be sending out invitations for events on Preserving Digital Art (30th March) and Preserving Sound and Vision (7th April). Farther out we’ve got events on digital forensics and preserving email. Some of these gatherings have a very practical focus and produce useful documents in their own right. The DPC Web Archiving and Preservation Task Force is just about to be joined by a new Task Force on ‘Accreditation and Capacity Evaluation’. We’re also planning a repeat of the ‘Directors’ Group’ – a forum meeting for junior staff of full members to talk about practical problems and working solutions (27th June). This year, the group will adopt Chatham House rules which will help sharing of genuine problems and will encourage mutual problem solving.
Research and innovation in digital preservation are international so it is important that efforts to combat fragmentation have an international dimension. The DPC has long retained contacts with partners internationally but in the next four years we will be stepping up our efforts to bring the best and latest research to the attention of our members – partly by encouraging and facilitating their participation in that research. Two projects funded by the European Commission will provide the basis for this wider and more active engagement: ‘TimBus’ and APARSEN. As far as the DPC is concerned, success will be the extent to which we provide accessible and timely access to new tools and services, as will the extent to which developers and researchers work together to provided shared solutions to shared problems.
APARSEN is not actually a project. In the language of the European Commission, it is a ‘Network of Excellence’ meaning that the partners are not so much funded to do new research so much as to embrace more diverse partnerships in research to which they are already committed. At the core of APARSEN is a recognition of the problem of fragmentation and the desire to work together on solutions. Consequently APARSEN’s mission is surprisingly broad, even when broken down to its constituent topics: ‘sustainability’, ‘trust’ ‘usability’ and ‘access’. The details of APARSEN are impressive and a little daunting: at the last count it had thirty three partners and twenty seven different work packages. The DPC is involved in APARSEN in a variety of different ways and has a specific role in helping with training, communications, qualifications, workshops and staff exchanges. These areas are close to the DPC’s existing mission and will allow the coalition to extend its activities, to work with partners internationally and will allow our members to participate in the network.
TimBus is a research project in the more traditional sense. It will investigate the needs of industry for digital preservation services with specific attention to the way that business processes create dependencies between partners that may have to endure through very long periods. Studying and providing examples of such dependencies will help firms to evolve a clearer understanding of ‘timeless business processes’ – abbreviated to TimBus. Industrial partners, especially those who operate software as a service for others, are already clear that it will not be enough to store data in the long term but that under certain conditions it will be necessary to document and retrieve the execution environments within which data was created or processed. This takes preservation one step farther than emulation or migration because it is not so much about providing long term access to information and more about providing long term access to processes. TimBus is a much smaller project than APARSEN but DPC has a similar role in terms of dissemination and communications. Moreover, by developing new relationships with industrial partners it should be possible to make good on our promise to engage more actively with the needs of industry and commerce.
These two projects complement the DPC’s existing work and will help us to deliver interesting new additions to many parts of our strategic plan over the next four years. The external funding these projects bring means that we will shortly be recruiting two additional temporary staff to help deliver the projects. These are exciting projects to be associated with – but success will be measured not by the efficicacy of tools alone but by the extent to which we can them without bamboozling the very people they are intended to help.
Who's Who: sixty second interview with Dr Birgit Plietzsch, Arts Computing Advisor, IT Services, University of St Andrews
Where do you work and what's your job title?
I work for IT Services at the University of St Andrews. My current job title is Arts Computing Advisor. At present the Arts Computing Service comprises a small team of two members of permanent staff, Swithun Crowe (Developer for Arts and Humanities Computing projects) and myself.
Tell us a bit about your organisation
Founded in 1413 and approaching its 600th anniversary, the University of St Andrews is Scotland’s first university. It is, after Oxford and Cambridge, the third oldest university in the English speaking world. IT Services is the University’s central computing service. The Arts computing team provides a liaison service to all Schools in the Faculty of Arts and gives advice on all aspects of electronic resource creation. This includes assistance with technical aspects of applications for public funding, project management, digitisation issues, hosting and digital preservation. We are providing a dedicated hosting service and are currently developing an electronic archive for the long-term preservation of local publicly funded electronic resources in the Arts and Humanities.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
At the centre of our current work is the development of an electronic archive. This work is being carried out as part of a small Digital Archiving Project (DAP). The digital archive that DAP is implementing is built on the Fedora Commons Framework. It uses the Community Edition of the Alfresco Enterprise Content Management System for the Ingest function and will be using the Planets software suite for Preservation Planning.
Initially DAP has been working on archiving the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland electronic resource (http://www.rps.ac.uk/) and, once further developed, project outcomes are intended to provide a service to cover the long-term preservation needs of other locally developed electronic resources. In addition to adding a capability to the Arts Computing service, the project also serves as a pilot to investigate different kinds of support needs for digital archiving within the University.
How did you end up in digital preservation?
Digital preservation was not exactly what was on my mind when I started my professional career. However, some years have passed since then, and in a strange sort of way it now appears to me as some form of “natural progression” from my PhD that focussed on the representation of social change in the novels of Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928).
In my current post I am encountering a number of issues that are similar to aspects of Hardy’s life and creativity. For example, in his later career Hardy’s manuscripts were no longer written by hand but typescripts, which potentially makes verifying their authenticity a lot harder. For reasons of social status Hardy is also known to have burnt a lot of manuscript material especially from his early career, which for several decades has had huge implications on the interpretation of his works by the public and on academic scholarship.
Though in Hardy’s case the “data loss” was intentional, it highlights the importance of secure, dependable, permanent data storage and of the challenges that we are facing today in terms of being able to verify the authenticity of data in the long-term.
What are the challenges of digital preservation for an organisation such as yours?
We are at the early stages of addressing issues of digital preservation at the organisational level, and challenges for us will be manifold. Examples include: an ever-increasing volume of data that will need to be preserved, subject specific preservation needs of research data, and policy issues such as the consistent implementation of data management issues and OAIS functions across different academic schools and support units.
What projects would you like to work on in the future?
Once DAP has been completed, I would like to build on its outcomes and on the services our team provides at present to set up a data service for University of St Andrews research data from all subjects.
What sort of partnerships would you like to develop?
We would like to develop partnerships with other academic institutions that are providing a similar service, with existing research data services and with projects with a remit for the digital preservation of research data.
If we could invent one tool or service that would help you, what would it be?
Time travel would be useful to see how future generations need to use and re-use our data and what challenges they encounter with it.
On a more realistic level we are encountering consistency issues with file validation tools that are bundled into FITS, which places limits on the degree of automatistation of our Ingest process. We are also still looking for a suitable Fedora front end to deal with archival Access needs.
And if you could give people one piece of advice about digital preservation ....?
Talk to your technical support staff well in advance of the start of an electronic research project and preferably at the planning stages…
If you could save for perpetuity just one digital file, what would it be?
There are a lot of electronic resources that are being created within and outwith the University that are worth preserving for perpetuity. It is difficult to point to a single file or data set. Having come to Digital Preservation from an academic background in Thomas Hardy’s fiction, I guess, the file or data set that I would like to see developed and preserved for future generations is some form of two-dimensional concordance that is able to capture linguistic features and editorial changes across all the different editions of Hardy’s fiction published during his life-time.
Finally, where can we contact you or find out about your work?
My email address is bp10.AT.st-andrews.DOT.ac.DOT.uk. You can find out more about Arts Computing at St Andrews and DAP online from:
In this section we invite a partner or colleague to update us about major work on their home country that will interest readers, or about major international initiatives. In this issue we talk to....
Dr. David Giaretta, Director of the Alliance for Permanent Access
It has been an intense 6 months or so since I became director of the APA but there is now a lot going on in the Alliance for Permanent Access. I think it’s fair to say that the initial 5 year strategic plan has been reasonably well carried through via several EU projects. In particular the research plan formed the basis of much of the CASPAR project, leading to important advances in the theory as well as the practice of digital preservation. Following on from this the PARSE.Insight project, which as the name suggests (Permanent Access to the Records of Science in Europe) was made up of APA members. This gathered information from around the world and across disciplines about views on digital preservation and the threats people were concerned about for their digital holdings.
Having now a significant track record in digital preservation and with members including the major stakeholders in digital data, the APA is moving into its next phase. In the next few months we will be developing the Strategic Plan for the next 5 years.
Appropriately enough the website has been redesigned and aims to be a “must visit” site for digital preservation – although of course it will take a little while to gather weight and authority.
Two new projects which have just started will help this – ODE (Opportunities for Data Exchange) and APARSEN (note the P.A.R.S.E again). The former is looking for great examples of data exchange to help build up momentum which PARSE.Insight showed was missing in this area. The latter is a Network of Excellence which brings together representatives of all the key groups researching into digital preservation as shown above. The aim is to create a common vision for digital preservation across Europe. As you will see from the diagram the idea is to develop the APA into a Virtual centre of Excellence. This development must be in the number and type of members as well as in its authority and influence in Europe and with a global reach. The web sites for these projects will be integrated into the APA site, including active discussion fora seeded and driven by these projects. In addition the CASPAR and PARSE.Insight web sites including all their results will be fully integrated into the APA site.
This is an exciting time for digital preservation as national and international infrastructures to support digital preservation are being planned as part of a larger effort to make the best, continued, use of our digitally encoded intellectual capital. The APA is, I believe, well placed to play a major role.
Compiled by Kirsten Riley.
What's new is a joint publication of DPC and DCC.