William Kilbride

William Kilbride

Last updated on 1 December 2017

The sun has set now on International Digital Preservation Day (IDPD17) around the world, so, at the very last tick of the clocks on the most westerly reaches of the setting sun, we’d like to conclude by offering our thanks to colleagues in all time zones.

We have been astonished, delighted and massively energized by the numbers that participated, by the number of blogs, tweets, emails, messages on every media platform imaginable. There has been a significant effort of disk-imaging, file-migrating, and archive-describing. I never knew that ‘digital preservation cake’ was a thing but there’s been an awful lot of it in show; I didn’t know that a working ‘day’ could last for 39 hours; and I could scarcely have imagined the word ‘cryo-flux-a-thon’.  There has been enthusiasm and generosity, insight and commitment, and a wonderful sense of celebration at the gathering of our dynamic, diverse and dispersed community.

I think it is safe to say that our first International Digital Preservation Day has been a success. 

I hope you will let me single out a few contributors who, behind the scenes, prompted us and encouraged us.  The day would not have been possible without support from our Allied Organizations, and in particular Barbara Sierman on behalf of OPF, Sabine Schrimpf and Sabrine Kristner-Hidalgo of nestor, Marcel Ras of NCDD, and Bradley Daigle on behalf of NDSA.  Rob Buckley of the National Archives of UAE, Barbara Signori of the National Library of Switzerland and Joshua Ng of the Asian Film Archive deserve a special mention for their efforts in translating the logo while Peter McKinney and Ross Spencer in Wellington made sure we made this a global event designed for all time zones.   Thanks are especially due to the DPC's die-hard 'Advocacy and Communications' Committee, comprising Jane Winters (Chair), Beth Brunton (TNA), Amber Cushing (UCD), Martin Donnelly (DCC), Jon Elliott (ARA), Katie Green (ADS), Natlie Harrower (DRI), Herve L'Hours (UKDS) and Robert Wright (SCA), with thanks also due to their employers for letting them lead the DPC membership that they represent.  There's little I can add to the praise deservedly heaped upon the impressively capable and good-humoured DPC staff team (Alyson Campbell, Sharon McMeekin, Sara Thomson and Paul Wheatley), but I know that IDPD would not have got off the ground without the commitment, energy and skill of Sarah Middleton, DPC's Head of Communications and Advocacy.  I am privileged to have such colleagues around me.

These few individual thanks are a small token of the many more thanks we owe.  IDPD would have been nothing without all of our bloggers and all of those organizations who marked the occasion by getting together in person to celebrate digital preservation and all of the opportunities it creates.  We are humbled to be part of such a wonderful community which rightly takes such pride in their important work.

If IDPD17 is over then the sun must now be rising on IDPD17+1.  If you start today better connected, better informed and better supported than you were yesterday then some small part of the original goal will have been achieved.  The question arises as to what will we do with that new support, new insight and new relationship?

The answer is simple. We can preserve better. But preservation is not and end in itself.    For two decades digital preservation has been framed as a struggle to postpone some unsought digital dark age. But over the years, and in the good company of wise and generous colleagues around the world, we have learned that it’s not about delaying the digital dark age: it’s about coming good on the digital promise.

So, if yesterday was about digital preservation, today is about ultimate purposes: healthier, wealthier, safer, smarter, greener, more creative, more transparent.  Digital preservation, at the interstices of innovation, the past and present is no enemy of change, nor even a victim of change: it’s an agent of change.  By working with each other, we are changed; by sharing insight and challenge, we are changed; by building momentum and support we are changed.  So the task for IDPD+1 and the days that follow, is to stay changed and where support or insight or commitment are lacking, to be the change.

Digital preservation is often compared with a time machine. I have no idea what we will make of this activity in a couple of years’ time, let alone what future generations might make of our efforts in the last few hours.  But I hope that we will look back fondly on this as the first of many International Digital Preservation Days. I hope that future generations will see the generosity and insight which have been exemplified today. Because our commitment to each other is the only useful measure of our commitment to them.

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