Micky Lindlar

Micky Lindlar

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Micky Lindlar is Digital Preservation Team Leader at Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) in Germany and recipient of the Digital Preservation Awards 2020 DPC Fellowship.

Dear Judges,
Dear DPC,
Dear digital preservationists world wide,
Dear colleagues and friends,

Digital preservation is mostly done in the dark. Like a lifeguard in a sea of bits and bytes we ensure that all stay afloat, we take precautions, we rescue when needed, we raise a warning finger at unsuitable gear. Our job is to create and maintain safe environments where data lives – lives to be used by others. The digital preservation awards is one of the rare occasions where the work in the dark is put into the spotlight to be seen and recognized. Praise by your peers is the highest form there is and I feel very honored to receive the DPC Fellowship. 

William asked me to share my digital preservation hopes with you – so here are three hopeful reflections on the theme “Digits for good”.

To me, “digits for good” also means “digits for the greater good, for all”. There are many ways how we as a community can contribute to this beyond the decolonization work currently conducted by archives and libraries. How open and approachable are we as a community – on a global, national, institutional, personal level? Are we doing enough to reach those currently not present here – and why aren’t they here? How can we support small, often volunteer run community archives? Are our standards and processes available and understandable to a wider community? What are socio-cultural implications of our technological choices, of file formats and what role does universal accessibility play? The fact that our community is discussing these questions in efforts like the OPF/DDHN Diversity & Inclusion Working Group and others is simultaneously a sign of maturity as well as a test of our strength. I am hoping for a digital preservation future with a wider diversity of voices, with new insights and equitable participation options in conferences and networks for all.

So much for community, what about the technological and organizational side of things? Keeping “digits for good” or forever requires good practice. But when is good good enough and who decides on this? Standard processes and guidelines exist, but reality may already leave us compromising, even if we’re sometimes not aware of it. We argue about proprietary file formats but may store the bits on a storage medium like LTO tape that is only produced by a couple of vendors world-wide, who furthermore were engaged in a legal battle for a while. Digital preservation practice needs to be built on a solid understanding of both – information management as well as information technology. But how can we ensure that both parts are equally understood in the same depth and width? This is especially true for the tech part. So much knowledge of storage technology, of file formats and automation processes exists within our community today – but much of it lives only on internal wikis, in expert’s brains,  or even on q&a platforms like qanda digipres or stackoverflow. I am hoping that we can find a more systematic way to bring the organizational and technological side of digital preservation together. 

Lastly, doing something “for good” requires reflection on what has been done and how it’s been going. A decade ago we may have been either on team migration or on team emulation – but today we can all agree that both are viable strategies that complement each other. I’m hoping that 10 years from now we will feel the same way about team research data management vs. team digital preservation. The two communities can learn so much from each other and have the power to collaborate on workflows that equally take data producer, preservation and consumer requirements into consideration – yet we still have a long way to go to understand each other and to truly work hand in hand.

In the end, “digits for good” is an exciting promise. Since I suppose the DPC fellowship ties me to the dpc for good, my promise is to contribute to my aforementioned hopes wherever I can.

Thank you for seeing and valuing my work. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for this award, the highest praise to be achieved in digital preservation. It means a lot to me.

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