28 June 2011 333 Banbury Road, Oxford | The Oxford Centre

As digital resources grow in scale, complexity and importance so the task of making sense of collections becomes more involved.  It can be a significant challenge to retrieve, assess and access digital data even when they are thoughtfully arranged and their context is well understood.  In an increasing number of cases, however, archives, memory institutions and researchers in all kinds of settings find themselves with the challenge of managing, preserving and interpreting collections with only limited provenance and description.  Laptops, hard disks and mobile phones now hold those original manuscripts and working notes that fascinate and inform readers and historians alike.  The digital jumble of modern life conceals collections of great value; the feint and muddled traces of relationships lie buried beneath the surface; an invisible and ephemeral confusion of bits and bytes witness transactions and connections not obvious to the naked eye.   Little wonder then that archivists, collections managers and researchers are increasingly turning to forensics to make sense of collections.  Tools and methods originally developed for the detection and detention of criminals provide a basis for a new kind of analytical collection management.  But skills are short and tools are developing quickly.  How do we preserve and protect this data?  How do we protect the reputations of depositors, researchers and ourselves?

Digital forensics lie at the intersection of many of the core challenges of digital collections management, especially for those collecting institutions that deal in the papers and correspondence of personal and public life.  How do we cope with the growing scale and complexity?  How do forensics relate to more familiar concepts like cataloguing and characterisation? How can we make our workflows more efficient and our collections more manageable? What tools do we need for discovery and what are the limits of reasonable deployment? What advice should we give to depositors and what restrictions might we put on users?

This DPC briefing day will provide a forum for members to review and debate the latest development in the use of digital forensics for preservation. Based on commentary and case studies from leaders in the field, participants will be presented with emerging policies, tools and technologies and will be encouraged to propose and debate new directions for research.

    The day will include discussion of key topics such as:
  • Digital archives and mobile devices
  • Tools for e-discovery
  • Integration of forensics with preservation workflows
  • The practical, ethical and reasonable limits of forensic enquiry

Who should come?

This day will be of interest to:

  • Collections managers, curators and archivists in all institutions
  • Tools developers and policy makers in digital preservation
  • Innovators and researchers in information policy and management
  • Innovators and researchers in computing science
  • Vendors and providers of digital preservation services

Draft Programme Outline

1030       Registration and Coffee

1100       Welcome and introductions (William Kilbride, DPC)

1105       The nature of the problem, (Jeremy Leighton John, British Library)

1135      e-discovery and Sense-Making: Tools, Techniques and Processes (Simon Attfield, Middlesex University)

1200       Mobile forensics: A case study (Brad Glisson, HATII, University of Glasgow)

1225       The Stanford Forensics Lab: A Case Study (Michael Olson, Stanford University)

1250       Question and answer

1300       Lunch

1345       Trends and tools 1 (Gareth Knight, CERch, King's College London)

1410       Trends and tools 2 (Kam Woods, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

1435       Question and answer

1445       Coffee

1500       Panel session and discussion: the practical and reasonable limits of forensics (TBC)

1550       Wrap up (William Kilbride, DPC)

By 1600 Close

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