Added on 13 September 2022

The DPC has welcomed around 700 delegates to the iPres conference, including around 500 on site in Glasgow and 200 more online.  This is the text of our welcome to delegates.

 Colleagues and Friends, a word in earnest is as good as a speech.  You are welcome and you are home.

2022 is the twentieth anniversary of the DPC.  Our mission has remained constant over those two decades, even as it has grown.  Our foundation is the recognition that digital preservation is a not only a technical problem, but it’s a human challenge. 

We’re used to the idea of renewing and refreshing our technical infrastructures. But it’s socio-technical challenge and if we don’t renew and support our social infrastructure then we will not succeed. 

As the posters around town almost say People make digital preservation

Also constant through that time has been the hospitality and generosity of colleagues and partners around the world.  The coalition has travelled by land and sea and air and once even by canal barge; by plane and train and automobile; and on more platforms than Glasgow Central Station. 

We have been your guests and you have made us welcome. 

This week, in the year marking the twentieth anniversary of our foundation, it is our pleasure to repay that generosity, renew those friendships, and welcome delegates from all over the world.

So welcome to Glasgow.  This is our home so it’s your home too.  Let me cheerfully claim you all as new scots now, and for as long as you chose to stay with us.  As the song almost goes, you belong to Glasgow and Glasgow belongs to you.

This is a big and diverse crowd, much bigger than we expected and more diverse than we dared hope.  Every continent except Antarctica, though the Antarctic Survey are represented too.  Many professional sectors and career stages, many languages and nationalities.  More than half of the delegates are first time attendees and probably more it’s the first time in Glasgow.  We note and celebrate that diversity with a promise of inclusion and generosity.  Put another way, the warmth of the welcome we have for you is the warmth of the welcome we ask you to have for each other.

Some quick orientation for you. 

You will already have met the staff of our secretariat at the registration desk which is staffed pretty much continuously from 8am each morning.  There is also a happy band of volunteers to help and assist with practicalities and with helping everything and everyone get to where they need to be.  You’ve all picked up your badges which are colour coded - gold for the organizing committee. 

There’s also a plethora of badges including ones that say ‘here to help’ and ‘am fae glesga’ so you can get a bit more informal support as needed.  These are an offer of help.  Maybe the last one is also a plea for help.

There’s also a badge indicating your expectations for social distancing and please can we encourage everyone to wear that.

I want to start the conference acknowledging how hard the last three years have been.  None of us have been unaffected by the pandemic.  I have felt very keenly the desire to be with you all again in person and I find myself quite emotional at the prospect of iPres at scale 1:1. You are all much taller than I remember. I have longed to be together, but also strangely perplexed at how to be in company. 

Amanda Gorman gets it right: ‘By hello we mean let us not say goodbye again’

Let’s recognise that fact and take care of each other.

I want to make a special mention to the workers who kept us safe at that time. 

I also want especially to repeat my thanks to the previous hosts of iPres 2021.  They faced enormous difficulties but held firmly to the idea that, if you’re doing digital preservation on your own you are doing it wrong. 

A special mention also to the Friends of iPres, many of them gathered here, who pulled off the most amazing feat of logistics and planning to deliver the #wemissipres festival in September 2020.  You should be very proud of what you achieved: I know I am.  And it occurs to me that you never got the standing ovation you deserved.  So that time has come.

On the subject of covid, I want to re-assure you that we’ve taken due precautions including consulting public health professionals about the conference and the venue. 

The restrictions in Scotland have largely been lifted but the government recommendation still stands, that masks be worn indoors at public events.  The conference brings many people from many places into one large space for an extended period.  So I want to repeat that advice now and encourage you please to wear a facemask at appropriate moments, even if you no longer do so routinely. 

In passive moments sitting in the audience for example it would be appropriate to wear a mask.  Put another way, as general chair I am responsible for the health and wellbeing of delegates here and your loved ones when you return home, so please help me in that respect.

If you have symptoms, don’t come to the conference venue, if you need a test then contact us and we can supply. If you find the large crowd overwhelming, then all the plenary sessions will be screened to the overflow room which will be spacious and sparsely occupied.

Different colours of lanyard are also meaningful.  Specifically, we have red lanyards for delegates who’d rather not appear in photographs.  That’s important for the official photographer who will be on site throughout the conference, but we ask also that you respect that with your own snaps and selfies. 

You’ll be aware that we are convening at a significant moment in history. 

The local organizing committee has already expressed on your behalf our condolences to the Royal Family and all those affected.  We are also setting up a book of remembrance, which is a traditional way of paying our respects collectively and in person.  You are invited to leave a message in the book, and you may wish to take a moment to reflect on your message.  At the end of the conference we will convey this to the Royal Household through our colleagues at the National Records of Scotland and we are grateful to them for that service.

The Queen’s death does not impact on the material core of the conference and I’ll turn to that in a moment.  We wondered if it should also change the tone and texture of the social program.  This extraordinary occasion means agencies in the UK might be less celebratory and festive than we might otherwise have been.  But our emphasis remains the same: on the sense of community which arises in collaboration; and in particular our gratitude to those whose service has supported and encouraged the progress this community has made in 20 years. 

The press coverage this week speaks of a promise made and kept for a lifetime. So, marking service, and yes celebrating it, seems entirely in keeping with the times.

As you may know, the Lord Provost's Department has regretfully withdrawn its invitation to the City Chambers for the Civic Reception tonight.  This will now take place in the TIC at a slightly earlier time of 5.30 – immediately after the end of the last session.

Let me also briefly reflect on program in the light of these events. 

Here’s a very traditional saying that you may hear in the coming days: ‘The Queen is Dead; Long live the King.’  There’s a great deal packed into these eight words.  It is a phrase of the moment, entirely in the present tense and immediately relevant this week.   It looks to the future and speaks significantly of the past: today, yesterday and tomorrow.

Today yesterday and tomorrow.  That could well be the subtitle of every single paper in our conference.

The digital age, and digital preservation in particular spell this out. Continuity means a commitment to change; and change means a commitment to learning; and learning means openness to others.

For ourselves too, our plans and our conference have briefly changed: but it’s also still iPres 2022 and a word in earnest is still as good as a speech.  You are welcome and iPres is home.

Let me turn now to the program.  I won’t dive too deeply as we’d be here all day.  There are up to four concurrent strands each day.  One of the strands is hosted entirely on the platform and screened upstairs in room 3, two of the strands are webcast live to the platform, and the fourth strand is being recorded for play back later.  The recordings will be on the platform and be available to delegates afterwards, and ultimately available under mostly open access.

Fear of missing out no more.

Tuesday and Wednesday open with a keynote and are followed by four concurrent strands in sessions of 90 minutes.  On Thursday the order is reversed – the keynote comes at the end of the day.  Posters Wednesday and Thursday.  Ad hoc activities of course including the Games Room and the Great Digital Preservation Bake Off looks like it’s going to be a real highlight.  Even if there’s no actual baking.

I will pause here for a moment and to thank the very large program committee – deliberately large.  The group is about 50% larger with the explicit purpose of including a new generation of leaders.  And my goodness have they succeeded. 

They have been helped by a huge army of reviewers; and they have in turn worked through a massive outpouring of contributions and proposals.  So I am very grateful for all of them

Friday is our professional visits. There is an amazing range of people to meet and places to go.  Did I mention Fear of Missing Out?

Social program is relatively simple.  We have a welcome reception tonight when we will be welcomed to the city, this will be at 5.30 here in the TIC as the City Chambers is not available.  Wednesday is the conference dinner and ceilidh at Grand Central Hotel.

Has iPres ever had a ceilidh before?  Maybe not but maybe it’s something we should do each year.

Absolutely the best way to interact with the program is on the app.  We have worked very hard to reduce waste and to reduce the carbon footprint of our conference.  I think this is the first iPres to have an explicit environmental policy and there’s a benchmarking exercise on carbon consumption.  We really do hope this is something iPres does every year.

Any way, that’s why the App matters.  There’s no bag or booklet or pack as such.  It’s all online.  Not just the program but live updates, poster videos, networking are all on the app. 

Let me turn finally to the ideas behind iPres 2022. 

Why are we here?

We face a global challenge to fulfil the promise of the digital revolution.   As new technology becomes old; and hi tech becomes lo.. To build a digital inheritance that endures, maintaining the best of our generation and handing it to the nex.  A promise fulfille, a promise worth fulfilling. Enabling innovation with resilience to be healthier and wealthier, safer, greener and smarter; more creative, more accountable, more transparent.

This is the challenge of digital preservation: data for all, for good and for ever.

This is a shared challenge, It’s the challenge the Digital Preservation Coalition has faced since our foundation 20 years ago…

iPres 2022 adapts the motto of our host city: ‘Let Glasgow Flourish’ so the conference theme: ‘Data for good, for all, for good for ever’ has the subtitle ‘Let digits flourish.’ It invites reflection and debate about how digital preservation can support flourishing communities, ecologies, economies and ideas.

The name ‘Glasgow’ means literally the ‘Dear Green Place’: a place to consider the ethical and ecological context of our wor Glasgow is ‘The Workers’ City’: building sustainable communities of practice and professional exchang. Adam Smith wrote ‘The Wealth of Nations’ in Glasgow: a place to model, measure and expand an emerging digital economy, open to all with common purpose for the common good. Glasgow is a ‘city of revolutions’, industrial and otherwise: a place of innovation and radical disruptions. Glasgow is ‘Clyde-Built’, an idiom that means ‘built to last’: engineered for the harshest of conditions and proven to endure, whatever comes

Join the story.  And let digits flourish.

A word in earnest is as good as a speech.  You are welcome and you are home.


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