Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

Last updated on 30 October 2018

You never quite know how some things are going to pan out, and that was certainly true for our first World Digital Preservation Day (formerly International Digital Preservation Day) in 2017. For those of you who weren’t involved in last year’s inaugural extravaganza, honestly it was one of my favorite DPC days ever - and for those who were, I really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

In the hope that I can encourage even more people to join in the fun on 29th November, I shall endeavour to try and sum up why World Digital Preservation Day was SO great last year.

1. The buzz

To talk about ‘the buzz’ I first need to fill in a bit of background. As part of a wider digital preservation community we had been wanting for a long time to do ‘something’ that celebrated the normally uncelebrated day-to-day work of digital preservationists around the world. We had no budget to do anything flash so we started with a home-made logo and encouraged people to download this and add it to email signatures, event programs, tweets, anything relevant really…but then we had requests for the logo to be translated; first into Dutch, German, French and Spanish and then Italian and Greek, and before we knew it we had been offered translations in Arabic, Chinese, Burmese, Thai, Tamil, Burhasa and Filipino! 

Next, we invited some interesting people to blog for us, we invited DPC members and others from around the community to share pictures and tweets of their ‘digital preservation day’ with us on their chosen social media channel and we encouraged those who could to hold events of their own on the day.

The DPC’s own contribution to the day was the publication of the first Bit List of Digitally Endangered Species, and a small launch event in Glasgow which was live streamed to whoever wanted to watch. There had been quite a bit of media interest in this activity and we were already quite chuffed that William had made it onto the BBC Click radio show to talk about at-risk digital materials.

On the day though, we were expecting quite a low key but jolly 36ish hours of blogs and tweets and logos in many languages… 

But to say that we were absolutely bowled over by the buzz created by digital preservationists from all corners of the globe, would be a complete understatement!

We kicked off at about 8am local time in Wellington New Zealand with our first blog post from National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA), closely followed by a series of live events hosted by the University of Melbourne. I was mostly following proceedings on Twitter – and proceed they did – because by about 10pm local time in the UK Twitter had gone berserk and I was hooked! I couldn’t put my phone down, I couldn’t go to bed…what if I missed something?! I actually got up early the next day to see what digital preservation goodness had been taking place while I slept!

As the sun rose over Asia, Europe and Africa, before making its way over to the Americas, the noise we were making about digital preservation had reached a crescendo!

Just some of the highlights of this almighty digital-preservation­-appreciation-fest are shown in this report, and I say ‘some’ because this was just the activity we could see and knew about:

IDPD17 Report

In short it was awesome!

2. The feats of creativity

One of my favorite things about the day was admiring the creative ways some of our community chose to celebrate World Digital Preservation Day.

Highlights include:

Crocheted Floppy Disk Man courtesy of the DPC’s Sharon McMeekin

 These awesome Bits and Bytes (Bites?) biscuits and floppy disk cake which were made to celebrate the day at Lancaster University

In fact, all the cake – so much cake

And the thoughtful digital preservation themed gifts, like these sweets attached to instructions for transferring files left by the genius folks at Hatfield House who also changed their server screen savers for the day!! Inspired.

Hatfield small

I can’t wait to see what new feats of creativity this year brings.

3. ‘Meeting’ new people

Actually, physically, I spent most of last year’s World Digital Preservation Day in our DPC office in York. I was allowed out to join the fun of a little launch party for the Bedern Declaration, but generally I was home alone (so to speak).

But another fantastic thing about last year's event was that I felt like I was actually with people, and I ‘met’ new people around the world through their tweets and Instagram pics. I followed events that were taking place on the other side of the globe and on the blog, I read about institutions and collections and challenges and endeavors and achievements, in environments and situations I had never considered before.

A stand out post, which said ‘World Digital Preservation Day’ to me like no other was this one by Johanna Gallego Gutierrez at the National Library of Columbia, which explained some of the political challenges faced by our digital preservation colleagues in South America:

Archivo web de Proceso de Paz y Posconflicto / Processes of a Peace and Post-Conflict Web Archive

I felt like I got to know people – and in fact have stayed in touch with some people I ‘met’ in 2017. The presence of such a geographically diverse group all sharing and supporting each other was a joy to behold.

It would be tremendous if that big online digital preservation hug extended even further this year, and we heard from individuals or organizations in some of the world’s other developing countries.

Have I convinced you...?

So, with just one month until World Digital Preservation Day on Thursday 29th November, there is not much longer to wait until our second annual celebration of all things digital preservation!

If you’d like some suggestions about how to take part, I would be happy to oblige:

  1. Tell us ALL about it

Like to write? Capture ‘a day in the life’ of you! Tell us about the trials and tribulations, challenges and solutions, failures and successes you face in a typical ‘digital preservation day.’ Take us behind the scenes and tell us about the material you’re working with. Have you got your hands on the email archive of a local celebrity, or the research data from a ground-breaking piece of work, or are you working on strategy, policy and funding? Are you doing something special for the day? Let us know. If you are a member, you can post directly to the DPC blog on the day (login first). If you have your own blog, post your piece there and send us a link to it and we’ll add it to the WDPD2018 page, or send us your post in advance (by 6th November) and we’ll add it to the DPC blog for you.

  1. Tell us about it (short version)

Blogging isn’t for everyone but, using your social media channel of choice, can you encapsulate your ‘digital preservation day’ in 140 characters? Do you think you could persuade your organization to relinquish the corporate twitter account for the day, for you to tweet non-stop about digital preservation?! It goes without saying that we want this to be an international affair, so any language goes... just make sure you use the hashtag #WDPD2018

  1. Take a picture

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Can you take a photo which sums up your ‘digital preservation day?’ A stack of CDs or other fragile storage media filed 'safely' on a shelf, your preservation lab (I appreciate not everyone has one of these), a team meeting, a seminar, your obsolescent-media-cake?! Add it to your own Instagram/facebook/Flickr account using the hashtag #WDPD2018 or send it to us and we’ll add it to ours.

  1. Make a movie

Keep your eyes peeled for inspirational moments at digital preservation and related conferences between now and 29th November and record them if you can! If you are giving a paper at a conference soon, you're holding a webinar, or have done recently, see if you can record it and make a short video. If you are holding your own event or attending one on the day, or can capture a workflow at your desk, see if you can do the same. It doesn’t have to be studio quality; record on your phone or even narrate a PowerPoint, and then add to your video sharing platform of choice, remembering the hashtag #WDPD2018 of course.

  1. Come together

All this social media is fine, but nothing beats a proper get together. Take inspiration from some of our members who have come together to form their own local digital preservation gatherings; ‘AusPreserves,’ ‘Digital Preservation and Cake’ or ‘Edinburgh Preserves’ being the three that immediately spring to mind. Basically, get together, have a chat about digital preservation with likeminded folk and consume a foodstuff and/or beverage of your choice. What could be better?  Or why not take the opportunity to gather colleagues from other departments around your organization, who you would like to know more about what you do and tell them! It doesn’t need to be all day – an hour-long breakfast or lunchtime seminar would be perfect. If you are organizing an event, let us know and we'll add to the WDPD2018 page on the DPC website! And take a picture, and tweet it, or whatever you like to do.

I hope my recap of my highlights from last year has inspired you to take part again, or for the first time. If it's anywhere near as exciting as last year, it'll be fantastic, but I have a feeling World Digital Preservation Day is just going to get better and better.

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