Antonio Guillermo Martínez Largo

Antonio Guillermo Martínez Largo

Last updated on 7 November 2019

Antonio G. Martinez is CEO & Founder of LIBNOVA and is based in Madrid, Spain

Last year in our guest blog post for the DPC we wrote about “Do you D.P.?” and we commented that there is no “DP yes or no, but, up to what level of DP can you go?”. This year the theme for World Digital Preservation Day is ‘At-Risk Digital Materials´.

As we mentioned last year, it was the less D.P. intense communities that were picking up the tune of the more energetic entities, at many levels. Over the last few years we have been sensing that the ‘At-Risk Digital Materials’ menace is being taken very seriously indeed by big and small cultural heritage institutions across the globe and that those international entities are picking up speed by their own accord. Many of these international entities are turning to other older and established associations to contrast their fears concerning digital preservation. They realise they are not alone on many issues; it is quite an international concern. And this takes me to another point.

Internationalisation or standardisation.

Let me focus on this international perspective.  This convergence of international entities has sometimes been addressed as internationalisation. We are not very fond of the idea or term of the “internationalisation of digital preservation”, since digital preservation has always been international. Our stance is that it’s simply a question of numbers, of growing numbers. A question of more individuals and institutions joining the growing digital preservation community at a global scale.  For instance, this last iPres took place in Amsterdam and it was the first iPres for around 50% of the attendees. We are organising events further afield to include more local talent, -next year’s iPres will take place in Beijing and the PASIG2020 will take place in Madrid-. We are congregating at events as a larger international community.  We are getting to know each other and exchange ideas at a broader and more international level. The DPC’s efforts are also in line with this idea. It is becoming an ever-growing international family. This year we can welcome to the DPC Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet), the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to name a few. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, the NDSA’s affiliation grew sharply both in numbers and international presence. We must remember that this year the NDSA gave an award to Dr. Dinesh Katre, from the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in India and gave the NDSA Organization Innovation Award to APREDIG for translating the NDSA levels of preservation into Spanish and sharing it with the digital preservation communities in the Americas.  All very international.

So yes, lots of practitioners in lots of places. The issue is not the internationalisation of digital preservation, but more so the generalisation or standardisation at an international level, the sharing of information and standard practices. Many individual problems are, in fact, generalised issues affecting multiple and/or very diverse entities. People are looking around to see if others have come across the same obstacles and want to find out how they overcame them. Diverse entities from across the globe end up having similar digital preservation concerns. Not surprisingly, many hurdles are the similar the world over, and they seem to be standardised too.  

Off the shelf alternatives

We know of this. Let me explain. We are noticing these last few years that institutions the world over are becoming very familiar with off-the-shelf alternatives such as ours. Why should I mention this? Well, the reason behind this is that many see a generalised trustworthy standard hovering about that has been developed through years of working alongside many entities across the globe. At the back of their minds there is the idea of “it’s probably happened to somebody else before and they’ve come up with the solution”, and that is a very reassuring idea for both practitioners and stakeholders. There is a sense of “they are our allies and will help us if we hit a snag”. Most top-level digital preservation platforms have been tried and tested by some of the most demanding entities worldwide. It is a power in numbers thing.

So, if years of experience meet the individual needs of every institution, we begin to get a sort of ethereal figure of world standardisation, if you may.  It is like an international standard digital preservation language we speak universally. And this is true.  We are diligently working towards this unity, sometimes unknowingly. We understand that issues arise at an individual local level but most probably have already arisen somewhere else.  So, we need to talk and share our experiences, share our bugs and our fixes. Someone somewhere will benefit, and this, in the long run, will lower the risk of ‘At-Risk Digital Materials’ whether it’s a video on social media, a smart phone app or a nineties video game!

A.G. Martinez

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