Digital Preservation as a Thought Experiment

Digital Preservation as a Thought Experiment

Finally available to share is my author’s copy of a chapter I have written in recently published book: Digital Preservation in Libraries: Preparing for a Sustainable Future (An ALCTS Monograph)

The chapter started life as a blog, but grew rather unwieldy and unfocused, at which time I took the opportunity to work with the publication’s editors Jeremy Myntti and Jessalyn Zoom to turn it into something, not just more substantial, but hopefully more useful, to folks out in the field (all fields) getting to grips with digital preservation.

I wanted to draw on my experience over the last 10 years as a researcher and analyst and describe the building blocks of any problem that I work on. I wanted to demystify.  

In a field that is not just cross-discipline, but seeks to transparently protect heritage cross-domain, I sought to describe a pragmatic world view which makes it clear that the skills everyone brings to the table are needed to make digital preservation a successful initiative, and indeed, make it clear, that this does not work unless everyone can come to the table to discuss needs and requirements in as humanistic and inclusive a way as possible. 

Folks are threatened by the language that can dominate this field, checksum; debugging; byte-level analyses; for example. I wanted to show the reader how they might work their way back from a seemingly insurmountable or difficult to understand problem to find its essence.

To have a meaningful conversation about the many ways a problem can be solved one must begin with an unambiguous description of what is being solved. Technology after all serves our purposes, not the other way around.

I wanted to describe ways that the reader might adopt to continue to discuss an issue, be the audience technical or non-technical and all in-between.

I do not know how successful I was, but I would love to hear back from y’all in the comments below.

I try to practice every day to communicate more effectively and more inclusively, and I will endeavor to re-read my words, and seek out other’s guidance too. I appreciate that this will remain an ongoing effort but one that I know will have its benefits the more folks that we can get on board. 

For those reading this blog, you may also be interested in the flash cards I have created for beginners to digital preservation. More about that in my blog: Brainscape: Flashcards for Digital Preservation

Finally, as I sign off, I must credit Andrea K. Byrne for being a constant source of inspiration as a colleague at Archives New Zealand and every day since. From the day she arrived at work, her voice, one that called for fairness and inclusiveness was always heard, and as I hope this work proves testament to, is, and shall continue to be a constant source of self-reflection.