Jessica Meyerson

Jessica Meyerson

Last updated on 30 November 2018

Jessica Meyerson is Research Program Officer for Educopia Institute and coordinating member of the Software Preservation Network


As the Software Preservation Network (SPN) makes its first attempt to transition from a grant-funded effort to a member and sponsor-supported community, we do so with an awareness that initiating a new collaborative effort looks very different, in terms of required skills and resources, from sustaining an existing collaborative effort. We are lucky to be informed by Educopia Institute’s Community Cultivation - A Field Guide (CCFG), which provides a comprehensive description of community growth both in terms of lifecycle stages (Formation, Validation, Acceleration, Transformation) and growth areas (Vision, Engagement, Infrastructure, Governance, and Finances & Human Resources).

I want to take this opportunity to map a subset of SPN’s activities using the CCFG with the goal of demonstrating SPN’s commitment to responsible development and to provide an example of how other digital preservation communities can use the field guide as a tool for assessment and development.

FORMATION: Software Preservation Network Forum

The 2016 SPN Forum signified the realization of the network - with individuals from a range of organizational types working together to identify, prioritize, lead and participate in working groups that corresponded to the five areas of software preservation activity: Legal/Policy, Metadata/Standards, Training/Education, Research, and (at the time) Curation-Readiness. Communication, Governance, and Advisory Groups were established to support the work of these five core activity areas. Outcomes of the forum reflected the strengths of SPN’s founding participants as well as key Formation activities within specific community growth areas:


  • Identify and document the core problem, challenge, and/or opportunity that the community is forming to address
  • Set initial goals (in SPN’s case 1-6 yrs)

The process of preparing for the forum, (involving an in-depth review of previous software preservation initiatives; a national survey of digital stewards that surfaced clear areas of uncertainty surrounding software preservation in practice; and collaboration among presenters to articulate gaps and overlaps to share with participants), resulted in a clear articulation of the core challenge. The SPN Community Roadmap parsed the challenge into actions - prioritizing and sequencing specific tasks within each of the five activity areas.


  • Establish communications structure (e.g., mailing lists, social media, website, videoconferencing)
  • Establish administrative structures (e.g., file sharing, calendaring, registration, project management, survey tools)

Immediately following the forum, SPN expanded the Google Drive folder so that working group coordinators could access shared resources such as the SPN bibliography and community roadmap, and begin to create documentation specific to their working group.


  • Foster relationships within the community
  • Establish and facilitate subgroups and regular meeting schedules

The forum was crucial in building community trust, for acknowledging and building on the work of previous efforts and for demonstrating a clear commitment to addressing software preservation holistically. Forum participants volunteered to coordinate each working group identified in the community roadmap. Closely following the forum, working groups established standing monthly meeting times. Working Group Coordinators also agreed to attend a second monthly meeting where updates about each group’s current work and any requests for support from the other working groups could be exchanged.


  • Establish and grow the community’s leadership
  • Develop prioritization plan for formation activities

The efforts of working group coordinators to recruit additional working group participants in the months that followed the forum enabled SPN to address additional growth areas. PIs Jessica Meyerson and Zach Vowell also contracted with Educopia Institute to engage SPN Governance members in the organizational modeling process, resulting in SPN’s draft mission, vision and value statements to be reviewed and ratified by all SPN working group participants and subscribers. Educopia also guided a preliminary market analysis to place SPN and its potential services in the broader ecosystem of existing digital preservation services.

VALIDATION: Externalizing SPN’s Shared Vision and Community Roadmap

Since 2016, SPN has continued to advance its agenda through its working groups and its affiliated projects.

SPN Working Group Coordinators organized a series of All-Hands Strategy Meetings in January 2018 to Validate and refine SPN’s Vision. Each working group was asked to evaluate their current scope statement and action plan in the context of SPN’s strategic goals.The bulk of the task to was to synthesize the growing body of working group documentation and compare that to our mission, vision, values and initial community roadmap in order to provide an empirical basis for continued investment in existing work areas and identify topics and activities that we might address in the future. Affiliated projects have expanded efforts to map activities to SPN’s mission and strategic goals - reaching beyond SPN’s working group members and coordinators to external (to existing working group members and coordinators) partners and potential members.

Affiliated projects are time-bounded projects with goals and deliverables that correspond to SPN’s mission and strategic goals. SPN’s affiliated projects also highlight community growth areas in which SPN has already advanced to the Validation lifecycle stage, reminding us that similar to the NDSA Levels of Preservation, a community may find itself spread across multiple community lifecycle stages depending on the growth area (ie, in Validation stage for Engagement and Formation for Finances and Human Resources).

In addition to their contributions to a growing body of empirical data about software preservation curation activities, our affiliated projects -FCoP, EaaSI and the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Software Preservation - have all been test cases for the Validation of SPN’s vision by providing an opportunity to articulate our mission, vision, values and strategic goals to external audiences. Perhaps most importantly, affiliated projects have allowed SPN to engage deeply with a cohort of organizations, their internal stakeholders, and their user constituencies. This engagement has fostered a community of practice around SPN that shares a sense of ownership over our strategic vision and direction.


This post was intended as an update on SPN’s continued growth as well as a friendly testament to the usefulness of the CCFG in understanding our community’s unique trajectory. Like all models of human behavior, the Community Cultivation Model necessarily depicts clean and compartmentalized representations of community activity. This is precisely why Educopia published the CCFG - a guide that acknowledges, even foregrounds the messy and very human process from which the model is derived. As a community cultivator for the Software Preservation Network, member of Educopia staff and contributor to the CCFG, I invite you all to share your community growth and development experiences. Contact me at <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;


[1] Software Preservation Network Prospectus (2018). Retrieved November 12, 2018 from

[2] Skinner, Katherine (2018) Community Cultivation – A Field Guide. p.8 Retrieved November 14, 2018 from

[3] Software Preservation Network blog series – bloggERS! (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2018, from

[4] Software Preservation Network Forum participants (2016). SPN Community Roadmap Retrieved November 18, 2018 from

[5] SPN Working group descriptions:

[6] Skinner, Katherine (2018) Community Cultivation – A Field Guide. p.23 Retrieved November 14, 2018 from

[7] Skinner, Katherine (2018) Community Cultivation – A Field Guide. p.6 Retrieved November 14, 2018 from p.23

[8] Fostering Community of Practice in Libraries, Archives and Museums:

[9] Scaling Emulation as a Service Infrastructure:;

[10] Best Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Software Preservation: 

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