William Kilbride

William Kilbride

Last updated on 29 November 2018

At the point this blog is published, the calendars in Fiji and Auckland and Wellington will already have clicked over to 29th November.  As the sun sets over my hotel in Amsterdam it will have risen already on World Digital Preservation Day, so I have the privilege and pleasure of welcoming you all to World Digital Preservation Day 2018.    

Happy World Digital Preservation Day

We introduced world Digital Preservation Day in 2017 with two simple aims in mind: to connect and to raise awareness.  It’s obvious to the DPC that the digital preservation challenge is a shared, global one: obvious because the invitation to collaboration is at the core of the DPC’s foundation. The growth of the global digital preservation community is one of the most welcome characteristics of this dynamic and supportive sectors over the years, encouraging us to draw upon an ever-deeper reserve of insight and ideas which refine and renew efforts to ensure a secure digital legacy.  But the growth is also a challenge: many practitioners are relatively isolated so we risk the inefficiencies and misunderstanding which fragmentation implies.  Just connecting with peers and partner from other professions, agencies, sectors and countries is a worthwhile goal, especially when points of contact become a habit of sustained co-operation.

I really cannot remember now where the idea originated – except that it came from the DPC’s Advocacy and Communications sub-committee.  I don’t think we quite anticipated just how right the time was.  We were bowled over in 2017 and the highlights still stand …

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

On reflection it should have been obvious that this was the right thing at the right time. We were so enthusiastically encouraged and supported by colleagues in nestor, NCDD, OPF, NDSA and others that we should have known it would been impactful.  Just the number of offers to translate the logo should have told us we were onto a good thing. 

The purpose was to connect, and there’s solid evidence that this has indeed been an outcome: perhaps in a volume that could not have been anticipated. It’s hard to articulate but one whimsical anecdote goes some way to underline the point: yesterday my children wrote their letters to Santa, on a conference notepad supplied by colleagues at the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz which I was invited to visit in November.  That commitment meant I had to turn down an invitation to Espoo in Finland (which I attended remotely having had previous success with a remote presentation to Italy earlier in the year); and UNESCO in Paris (which Paul Wheatley attended on our behalf). I also missed the meeting with IIPC in Edinburgh and a call with the Software Preservation Network in Austin.  All of this in same week: that’s just what digital preservation is like.  The DPC has new members in Dublin, Doha, Geneva, Luxembourg and San Francisco, not to mention in Aberystwyth, London, Nottingham, Salford and Swansea.  We’ve welcomed a global bank, two world class museums, two national libraries and a clutch of universities and archives: so, the diversity is not just about geography but sector too.

Once around the sun and it’s time to do it again, this time with a shiny new logo and the wisdom of experience.  I will confess that we completely missed the fact that there was also an ‘International Disabled Persons’ Day’ in early December each year.  We looked but clearly not hard enough: so this time it’s ‘World Digital Preservation Day’, avoiding an obvious hashtag collision. 

For my part, here are my own expected highlights in the next few hours. 

Tonight, as I go to bed, colleagues in New Zealand will be kicking things off.  I will be welcoming the sun here in Amsterdam by releasing the 2018 revisions to the BitList of Globally Endangered Digital Species, before joining colleagues in the Amsterdam Museum for a launch of a new book on the state of the art in digital preservation in the Netherlands to which I have contributed a chapter.  From there I will move to joint conference called ‘Memory Makers: Digital Preservation Skills and How to Get Them’ with our wonderful co-hosts, the Netwerk Digitaal Erfgoed.  I am hoping for a great day, but it also has to end in time, because the highlight of the year – in fact the highlight of the two years – follows after: the presentation of the biennial Digital Preservation Awards, which it will be my honour to host, and which will be webcast live at 1900 Central European Time.  I’ll be tracking and promoting a range of digital preservation activities throughout the day and by the time I go to bed programmes in Mexico, US and Brazil will be well underway.  I’ll be reporting from day two of the conference on Friday morning before bringing it all to a close on Friday afternoon.

 That’s just me.  Over to you!

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