Friday, April 24, 2009

Digital Preservation Matters - 24 April 2009

Archiving Writers' Work in the Age of E-Mail. Steve Kolowich. The Chronicle of Higher Education. April 10, 2009.

Archiving materials from authors has difficulties in the digital age. Authors have kept their information on hard drives, floppies, other kinds of disks, and a variety of formats. Three things are clear:

  1. the digital age will transform the way libraries preserve and exhibit literary collections
  2. universities must spend money on new equipment and training for their archivists.
  3. scholars will be able to learn more about writers than they ever have before.

Archivists must know how to transfer data to new machines, since old machines will not survive for long. They must continue doing what they have been doing, but now do more. The files may give more information about authors and their influences. This is just the beginning because the authors may also have online accounts, such as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, email, and other. It is not always clear who owns what data. “The speed at which universities adopt digital curation may depend on their willingness to divert funds from more traditional areas.”

DVD Copying Case: Why You Should Care. Christopher Bree. Macworld . April 24, 2009.

Details of a court case about copying DVDs and copy-protection. It has implications for fair use, archival copies, and the technology to create the copies.

The UN's World Digital Library. Frances Romero. Time. Apr. 22, 2009

On April 21, UNESCO and the Library of Congress unveiled the world digital library which will allow institutions to share cultural and educational data. It can browse objects by Place, time, topic, type, and institution.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Digital Preservation Matters - 17 April 2009

Working Together or Apart: Promoting the Next Generation of Digital Scholarship. Report of a Workshop Cosponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources and The National Endowment for the Humanities. March 2009. [88p. pdf]

Asking Questions and Building a Research Agenda for Digital Scholarship. Amy Friedlander

Searching across large collections is important but there are other opportunities for analysis and presentation, such visualization so users can identify patterns and differences as well as display results. The next generation will be graphically oriented so visual means will be important for the analysis and not just the presentation. The Web is a graphical medium and can increase the possibility of confusion and misinformation. It also has a different notion of literacy.

The challenges of managing digital collections over time are substantial, but the goals are clear:

  • Allow digital collections to be explored, expanded, and repurposed
  • Users must trust the repositories to safeguard their contents and view on request
  • Managing digital collections is a fundamental condition for any research agenda.

Tools for Thinking: ePhilology and Cyberinfrastructure. Gregory Crane, et al.

“Our ultimate goal must be to make the full record of humanity accessible to every human being.” The universal library is an unattainable point of reference but something to work towards. We need to build an infrastructure with at least three kinds of access:

  • Access to digital representations of the human record. This may have more information that the physical object.
  • Access to labeled information about the human record.
  • Access to automatically generated knowledge:

The Changing Landscape of American Studies in a Global Era. Caroline Levander.

Digital archives can offer new opportunities for rethinking and bringing materials together. A digital archive can reach an researchers who may not otherwise have access to the materials. They can bring together materials that exist in different geographic locations and increase the collaboration among an international audience.

A Whirlwind Tour of Automated Language Processing for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Douglas W. Oard

We never seem to get to the ends that we are trying to achieve. This may be because “those who could build these marvels don’t really understand what marvels we need, and we, who understand what we need all too well, don’t really understand what can be built.”

To get the future right:

  • Build useful tools, but don’t try to automate the intellectual work of scholars.
  • Dream big. Progress comes from the vision of what is needed with the understanding of what is possible
  • Waste money wisely.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  • Make friends. Others have been working on these projects.

Information Visualization: Challenge for the Humanities. Maureen Stone.

“Digital archiving creates a vast store of knowledge that can be accessed only through digital tools.” Users of this information will need to be able to use the tools of digital access, exploration, visualization, analysis, and collaboration. This is a new form of literacy which must become fundamental for humanities scholars. Collaboration or sharing is fundamental to the Web and to digital archiving.

Art History and the New Media: Representation and the Production of Humanistic Knowledge. Stephen Murray

Instant and free access to information across geographic and institutional boundaries has made its value plummet in an economic sense. We value what is scarce, not what is plentiful, and the precious entity is now attention, which is always finite and claimed by many sources at the same time.

Digital Preservation Matters - 10 April 2009

Library of Congress in New Media Initiatives. Weekly News Digest. March 30, 2009.

The Library of congress will start sharing video and audio content on YouTube and iTunes in order to make its resources more-widely accessible. New video and podcasting channels will be devoted to LC content. The GSA (General Services Administration) also announced agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and to allow other federal agencies to participate while meeting legal requirements and the needs of government. GSA plans to negotiate agreements with other providers; LC will explore these new media services.

LC has loaded 3,100 historic photos on Flickr in a photo-sharing service and will add new photos each week. Users have helped curators with new information on the photos with public review and tagging. Their photos have received more than 15 million views.

More authors turn to Web and print-on-demand publishing. Elham Khatami. April 6, 2009.

Companies like Author Solutions or allow any author to submit a digital manuscript. These publishers use print on demand, which only produce hard copies of the books when a customer buys one. The author retains the copyright to his or her book and is responsible for all costs, from printing to marketing. Lulu has digitally published more than 820,000 titles, with about 5,000 new titles added each week. Author Solutions has helped about 70,000 authors publish over 100,000 titles, which costs from $399 to $12,999. Print-on-demand publishing is growing, and self-publishing through "vanity presses" is diminishing. On-demand publishing is more flexible, and there is less of a commitment on the author's part. Traditional publishers can benefit from the services of self-publishing companies, and can use this to find new and upcoming authors.

Preserving digital photos: What not to do. Isaiah Beard. Page2Pixel. Apr. 6, 2009.

Concerns about preserving born digital photos. Trying to preserve them with a printed copy leads to loss of image fidelity, loss of technical metadata, besides the inability to adjust or enhance the image. It is best to keep them in digital format. The world of digital curation is addressing the best practices for doing this.

Copyright and Related Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Unpublished Pre-1972 Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives. June M. Besek. CLIR Report. March 2009. [93p. pdf]

This looks at the complex ownership rights related to pre-1972 unpublished recordings and the related laws which govern them; it particular it looks at streaming works rather than downloading them. Experts believe that “the future of audio preservation is in the digital arena” and that involves making multiple copies. There are many issues that must be resolved, such as the definition of “premises” fair use, what does “published’ mean, and the new digital technologies available.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Digital Preservation Matters - 03 April 2009

Nevada Statewide Digital Initiative. Website. Updated 3 April 2009.

The purpose of the Nevada Statewide Digital Initiative is to: “Increase access to the collections held by Nevada's cultural heritage institutions through digital access to materials by residents of Nevada and scholars and researchers interested in Nevada's culture and history.” The series of activities to build statewide collaboration include:

  1. creating a collection policy;
  2. creating a website that links existing projects;
  3. adopting statewide best practice and standards;
  4. creating local partnerships that would build up to statewide partnerships;
  5. developing a digital pilot project curate and manage their digital materials.

Millenniata continues to make progress with its patent-pending Millennial Disc and Millennial Writer. Press Release. February 2, 2009.

This press release has information about a new optical disc that has been developed. It is designed to be a permanent archiving product that has no degradable components and “safely stores data for 1,000 years”. The technology makes a permanent change to the disc. It is referred to as Write Once Read Forever™ and can be read in a standard DVD drive. [check back for test results.]

Systemwide organization of information resources: a multiscalar environment. Lorcan Dempsey. Higher Education in a global economy: the implications for technology and JISC. 23 March 2009. [pdf presentation]

Interesting presentation that looks at libraries and their environment. Compares core components of companies and libraries. Examines a grid of Uniqueness and Stewardship, from Freely accessible web resources in the low-low quadrant to Special collections in the high-high quadrant, and shows where preservation appears. Moving from the institution to the multiscalar level.

Digital Project Staff Survey of JPEG 2000 Implementation in Libraries. David Lowe, Michael J. Bennett. University of Connecticut. March 20, 2009. [xls]

Preliminary findings of a survey about JPEG 2000, and to understand the community perception of it. JPEG 2000 is the product of efforts for an open standard. The concerns about implementing JPEG 2000 include: limited software tools, lack of functionality, and uncertainty of need. Some survey results of interest:

  • 59.5% said they use the format,
  • 19.7% use for new archival collections,
  • 16. 3% use for converting tiff collections
  • 53.5% use for online access

Other questions discuss the tools used and include comments about them.

Rocks Don't Need to Be Backed Up. Henry Newman. Enterprise Storage Forum. March 27, 2009.

General article about the need for digital preservation. “The first thing we need is a standardized framework for file metadata, backup and archival information.” “The integrity of modern data is not guaranteed except at high cost.” “We have no real framework to change and transcribe formats.”

[This is more about transferring information between computer systems rather than archival metadata. It shows the lack of interaction between digital preservation worlds. Some of the comments about the article are interesting.]

Goodbye, Encarta. A cautionary tale for newspapers? John Yemma. The Christian Science Monitor. March 31, 2009.

An article about how Wikipedia replaced the Encarta digital encyclopedia and what that points to. What Encarta did not do was to embrace the power of the internet, which includes almost instant updating. The “lesson is that general knowledge … can’t withstand an effort that was developed specifically for the Internet and that harnesses gifted amateurs.” There is power in open-source knowledge. Organizations can take their values with them, but it can’t take the old model, nor the old work habits. “The Web is its own universe with its own rules.”

INSIGHT into issues of Permanent Access to the Records of Science in Europe. PARSE.Insight. March 27, 2009. [pdf]

This document is to give an overview and details of technical and non-technical components which would be needed for science data infrastructures. The infrastructure components are aimed at bridging the gaps between areas of functionality, developed for particular projects, separated by either discipline or time. These components should play a unifying role in science data. They are developed within a European wide infrastructure, but there should also be advantages if these components are used more widely. The group has defined four main roles: funding, research, publishing, and storage/preservation.

Science Data Infrastructure: those things, technical, organization and financial which are usable across communities to help in the preservation, re-use and open access of digital holdings.

Preservation: meant in the OAIS sense of maintaining the usability and understandability of a digital object.

Representation Information: the OAIS term for everything that is needed in order to understand a digital object.

The report discusses some major threats. Those who responded marked these as “Important” or “Very Important”:

  1. Users unable to understand or use the data e.g. the semantics, format, etc
  2. Not able to maintain hardware, software or environment to make the information inaccessible
  3. No chain of evidence causing uncertain provenance or authenticity
  4. Access and use restrictions may not be respected in the future
  5. Inability to identify the data location
  6. The current data custodian may cease to exist
  7. Those responsible to look after the digital holdings may let us down

Any of the components must be able to be handed to another organization, and the Persistent Identifiers must transfer and resolve correctly. In general it is not possible to state that an object is authentic, other than providing evidence, such as technical details, to show the provenance of the object, or a social decision of trust.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Digital Preservation survey

We are interested in gathering some basic information regarding digital preservation initiatives by organizations, especially examples involving repositories and related tools. If you are working on a digital preservation project or initiative, please complete the survey. It's brief and will only take a few minutes:

We are interested in responses regarding the use of any repository, not only Fedora. We are conducting the survey as part of the launch of the Fedora Commons Preservation and Archiving Solutions Community, a new group that is focused on providing examples of preservation in action. A challenge for organizations is in getting practical examples to use in modeling their own implementations. The preservation solution community hopes to bring together individuals and organizations to make implementation easier.

It would be ideal if you could complete the survey by April 15, 2009 because we are hoping to present preliminary results at a birds-of-a-feather (BOF) session at the Open Repositories Conference 2009 in mid-May in Atlanta, Georgia. However, the survey will remain open after the above date to continue to gather responses.

Thanks for your input.
Chris Erickson, Ron Jantz, Nancy McGovern
Fedora Preservation Solutions Community - core team