Louise Lawson

Louise Lawson

Last updated on 8 May 2018


Read Louise Lawson's account of sessions on Emulation and Software Preservation at iPRES 2017. Louise is attending iPRES 2017 with support from the DPC's Leadership Programme which is generously funded by our Commericial Supporters.

This morning's session started with Geoffrey Brown who introduced his work with Zahra Tarkhani on Trustworthy and Portable Emulation Platforms for Digital Preservation The problem they were looking to address is how to provide secure remote access to restricted digital content.  Geoffrey took us through Trust issues and how to live with a model of sensitive content, the internet and untrustworthy platforms. Taking us through the need to move towards secure sharing and the associated security challenges that would need to be overcome.   

We were then taken in to a world of emulators with their work on the use of the Trustworthy Game Boy emulator, the modification of the open source Gameboy Emulator (GearBoy) and Intel SGX. The talk end by introducing a secure trustworthy and portable emulation architecture for digital preservation. Do read their paper for this architecture!

Stefano Zacchiroli presented his joint work with Roberto Di Cosmo on How and Why to Preserve Software Source Code. He focused his talk focused on Software Heritage Project (www.softwareheritage.org) which is a project which aims to Collect, Preserve and Share the source code of all the software that is publicly available.  There are three core principles of the project: Technology (transparency and FOSS, replicas all the way down), Content (source code, no a priori selection, intrinsic identifiers, facts and provenance) and Organisation (non-profit, multi stake-holder).

This project is taking a systematic approach to preserve all open source software!

We then moved onto a whistle stop tour of Yale University's work on Adding Emulation Functionality to Existing Digital Preservation Infrastructures.  Euan Cochrane and Jon Tilbury took us through the challenges they have encountered when looking at Emulation as a Service.  Euan talked through their work with CD-ROMs, explaining their work to set up a range of “base” environments, which provides a 1-click option to run an emulated CD-ROM.  In addition to this they also created a METS record for describing media installation and usage order.

Jon then took us through the barriers of why this tool is not widely available and its not an off the shelf product.  The first set of barriers considered were technical barriers; the need to bring the emulator and data together, high ingest, validation, server based systems, continuous updates and security issues. Jon then considered the management barriers, within the organisation, users in terms of keeping the knowledge arrive and we finally arrived at the key issue which remains the commercial barrier of copyright law. 

The session ended with Dena Strong taking us through the world of Phantoms of the Digital Opera. She explored the need of creators to have long term editable access to their files and work.  She presented various examples where there is are issues with backwards compatability, ageing systems, incompatibility across systems - looking at what is possible for these artists and researchers who are not digital preservation specialists. There are four primary tactics she is currently exploring that could assist. She identified these as; emulation, migration, re-creation and fossilisation, but what better way to end a session than with a dream. Dena's dream was…..to have portable cloud-based emulation.

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