Added on 14 January 2013

The Digital Preservation Coalition is delighted to announce the release of ‘Digital Forensics and Preservation’ by Jeremy Leighton John of the British Library – the latest in its popular Technology Watch Report series.

‘Digital forensics is associated in many people’s minds primarily with criminal investigations’, explained the author, ‘but forensic methods have emerged as an essential source of tools and approaches for digital preservation, specifically for protecting and investigating evidence from the past.’ 

‘There are three basic principles in digital forensics: that the evidence is acquired without altering it; that this is demonstrably so; and that analysis is conducted in an accountable and repeatable way. Digital forensic processes, hardware and software have been designed to ensure compliance with these requirements.’

‘Forensic technologies allow archivists and curators to identify confidential content, establish a proper chain of custody, transfer data without changing it and detect forgeries and lost items. They can extract metadata and content, enable efficient indexing and searching, and facilitate the management of access.’

Cal Lee from the University of North Carolina, an authority on applying digital forensics to archival collections welcomed the report. ‘Those who know Jeremy Leighton John's work will not be surprised that he provides a great deal of food for thought in this report.  Jeremy has been a pioneer in the application of digital forensics to archival collections, and he has thought deeply about the implications of these activities.’

The report will be especially useful to those collecting and managing personal digital archives.  The diversity of objects and intricacy of their relationships make personal digital archives highly complex. Almost anything may appear in such an archive, from poet’s drafts, astronomer’s datasets, digital workings of mathematicians, and notes of political reformers. With their diverse content, organization and ancestry, personal digital archives are the epitome of unstructured information and serve as a test bed for refining preservation techniques more generally.

This is the fourth report in the DPC Technology Watch Series to have been commissioned with Charles Beagrie Ltd as series editors: recent titles have included Preserving Email, Preserving Digital Sound and Vision, and IPR for Digital Preservation.  Four more reports are in  development: Preservation, Trust and E-Journals; Preserving Computer Aided Design; Web Archiving; and Preservation Metadata.

The series editor has been supported by an Editorial Board drawn from DPC members and peer reviewers who have commented on the text prior to release.  The Editorial Board comprises William Kilbride (Chair), Neil Beagrie (Principal Investigator and Managing Editor for the series), Janet Delve (University of Portsmouth), Sarah Higgins (Archives and Records Association), Tim Keefe (Trinity College Dublin), Andrew McHugh (University of Glasgow), Dave Thompson (Wellcome Library).

DPC Technology Watch Reports are available online:

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