Tuesday, January 31, 2017

20 TB Hard Disk Drives, The Future Of HDDS

20 TB Hard Disk Drives, The Future Of HDDS. Tom Coughlin. Forbes. January 28, 2017.
     Interesting article on the status and future of hard drives. It looks at the declining market and the trends for hard disk drives over the next few years.  Overall drive shipments in 2016 dropped about 9.4%, meaning that 424 million drives were shipped in 2016. Of the total HDDs shipped in 2016:
  • Western Digital shipped 41% 
  • Seagate shipped 37%  
  • Toshiba shipped 22%.
"The long-term future of HDDs likely rests with high capacity HDDs, particularly in data centers serving cloud storage applications".  Seagate plans to ship 14 and 16 TB drives in the next 18 months, and possibly 20 TB drives in the next three years.

Digital Preservation and Archaeological data

Digital Preservation.  Michael L. Satlow. Then and Now. Jan 26, 2017.
     The post looks at the issue of preservation in relation to the modern scholarly and artistic works. "The underlying problem is a simple one: most scholarly and creative work today is done digitally." Archaeological excavations generate reams of data, and like other scientific data, archaeological data are valuable.  There is no single way that archaeologists record their findings. "Unlike scientists, many archaeologists and humanists have not thought very hard about the preservation of digital data. Scientists routinely deposit their raw data in institutional repositories and are called upon to articulate their digital data management and preservation plan on many grant applications. The paths open to others are less clear."

Institutional digital repositories provide a simple and inexpensive solution. When the project is complete, the data can be converted to xml and deposited. The data conversion would be the most involved part. The xml format would allow the data to be easily accessed and used. "It is time to think about digital preservation as a staple of our 'best practices'.”

Monday, January 30, 2017

Born-digital news preservation in perspective

Born-digital news preservation in perspective. Clifford Lynch. RJI Online. January 26, 2017. [Video and transcript.]
   The challenge with news and academic journals: how do you preserve this body of information. The journal community has working on that in a much more systematic way. There is a shared consensus among all players that preserving the record of scholarly journal publication is essential. Nobody wants their scholarship to be ephemeral so you have to tell people a convincing story about how their work will be preserved.

The primary responsibility for the active archive in most cases is the publisher, but there must be some kind of external fallback system so content will survive the failure of the publisher and the publisher’s archive. These are usually collaborative. Libraries have been the printed news archive, but that is changing. There is also a Keepers Registry so you can see how many keepers are preserving a given journal. The larger journals are well covered, but the smaller ones are really at risk, and a lot of these are small open source journals. "So, we need to be very mindful of those kinds of dynamics as we think about what to do about strategies for really handling the digital news at scale."

With the news, there are a few very large players, and a whole lot of other small news outlets of various kinds. Different strategies are needed for the two groups. We need to be very cautious about news boundaries. "Now in many, many cases, the journalism is built on top of and links to underlying evidence which at least in the short term is readily inspectable by anyone clicking on a link." But the links deteriorate and the material goes away and "preserving that evidence is really important." But it is unclear who is or should be preserving this. There are also questions about the news, the provenance, the motives, the accuracy, and these have to be handled in a more serious way.

"most social media is actually observation and testimony. Very little of it is synthesized news. It’s much more of the character of a set of testimonies or photographs or things like that. And collectively it can serve to give important documentation to an event, but often it is incomplete and otherwise problematic. We need to come to some kind of social consensus about how social media fits into  the cultural record.

We need to devise some systematic approaches to this because the journalistic organizations really need help; "their archives are genuinely at risk" and in many cases the "long term organizational viability is at risk". We need a public consensus. "We need a recognition that responsible journalism implies a lasting public record of that work." The need for free press is recognized consitutionally. "We cannot, under current law, protect most of this material very effectively without the active collaboration of the content producers." This is too big a job for any single organization, and we don't want a single point of failure.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation

The UNESCO/PERSIST Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation. Sarah CC Choy, et al. UNESCO/PERSIST Content Task Force. March 2016.
     The survival of digital heritage is much less assured than its traditional counterparts. “Identification of significant digital heritage and early intervention are essential to ensuring its long-term preservation.” This project was created to help preserve our cultural heritage, and to provide a starting point for institutions creating their policies. Preserving and ensuring access to its digital information is also a challenge for the private sector. Acquiring and collecting digital heritage requires significant effort and resources. It is vital that organizations accept digital stewardship roles and responsibilities.Some thoughts and quotes from the document.
  • There is a strong risk that the restrictive legal environment will negatively impact the long-term survival of important digital heritage.
  • The challenge of long-term preservation in the digital age requires a rethinking of how heritage institutions identify significance and assess value.
  • new forms of digital expression blur boundaries and lines of responsibility and challenge past approaches to collecting.
  • libraries, archives, and museums have common interests to each preserve heritage
  • heritage institutions must be proactive to identify digital heritage and information for long-term preservation before it is lost.
  • Selection is as essential, as it is economically and technically impossible, and often legally prohibited, to collect all current digital heritage. Selecting for long-term preservation will thus be a critical function of heritage institutions in the digital age.
  • Selecting digital heritage for long-term preservation may focus primarily on evaluating publications already in their collection, originally acquired for short-term use, rather than assessing new publications for acquisition. 
  • Rapid obsolescence in digital formats, storage media, and systems is collapsing the window of opportunity of selection, and increase the risk that records are lost that might not have yet “proved” their significance over time.
Address strategies for collecting digital heritage and develop selection criteria for an institution. Four possible steps to use:
  1. Identify the material to be acquired or evaluated
  2. Determine the legal obligation to preserve the material
  3. Assess the material using three selection criteria: significance, sustainability, and availability
  4. Compile the above information and make a decision based on the results
Management of long-term digital preservation and metadata is important. There are five basic functional requirements for digital metadata:
  1. Identification of each digital object
  2. Location of each digital object so that it can be located and retrieved.
  3. Description of digital object is needed for recall and interpretation, both content and context
  4. Readability and encoding, in order to remain legible over time.
  5. Rights management, including conditions of use and restrictions of each digital item
“The long-term preservation of digital heritage is perhaps the most daunting challenge facing heritage institutions today.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Digital preservation is a mature concept, but we need to pitch it better

Digital preservation is a mature concept, but we need to pitch it better. Dave Gerrard. Digital Preservation at Oxford and Cambridge.  6 December, 2016.
     The OAIS standard can be confusing for newcomers to the field, and one of the potentially confusing areas is the Administrative area. It looks "like a place where much of the hard-to-model, human stuff had been separated from the technical, tool-based parts." The diagram is busier and more information-packed than other areas, and thus could use more modeling. The standard may be easier to use if there were other documents focusing on the ‘technical’ and ‘human’ aspects.

Communication, particularly an explanation to funders, about the importance of digital preservation is vital. It will help to have an 'elevator pitch' to explain simply what digital preservation is. The post suggests "Digital Preservation means sourcing computer-based material that is worthy of preservation, getting that material under control, and then maintaining the usefulness of that material, forever." [Some of these words may be easily misunderstood.]

The "OAIS standard is confusing" "but it has reached a level of maturity: it’s clear how much deep thought and expertise underpins it."  The digital preservation community is ready to take their ideas to a wider audience: "we perhaps just need to pitch them a little better".