What is Digital Preservation?


At the most basic level, digital preservation refers to the conservation of important objects, artifacts, and documents that exist in digital form. As technology continues to rapidly evolve and new software is propelled into mainstream use nearly every day, continued innovation leads to planned obsolescence for hardware and software, all too often rendering content created with older versions unusable. Universities have vast amounts of electronic media in their collections, and each item of digital content represents a unique challenge from a conservation standpoint. While museums have long employed art historians with specialties in artifact preservation, but to university libraries, it is often a challenge to find professionals who understand preservation from a computer science perspective. Just like ancient objects, digital objects can be fragile and require special care, and the growing dependence on changing technologies puts these digital items at great risk. As universities, libraries, and other organizations start to support and develop processes and resources for digital preservation, a new science and toolset is emerging to support and inform the work.


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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - phecht phecht Aug 20, 2013 critical need to train museum professionals in digital curation; digital preservation
  • It is very important for museums to preserve the content they are creating; born digital content is the most at risk, and there is definitely a need for museum professionals to gain expertise to manage digital content - sheila.carey sheila.carey Aug 21, 2013
  • This is the 800,000,000 pound gorilla in the room, and it affects museums and higher education. We are moving into an age of digital documents and will see a continuing eclipse of paper based book making. But our digital formats are not made for the long run -- 100+ years -- and the hardware they run on even less so.- weberj weberj Sep 2, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I mentioned this in the Time-Based Media Conservation topic, but the fact that almost identical descriptions are used for that topic and this one waters down both topics by conflating them. Both are important, but are quite different from one another. Digital Preservation, to me, implies using digital means to preserve archival, documentary, and interpretive materials (whether those materials were originally in analog or digital form doesn't really matter). Time-Based Media Conservation is explicitly about preserving art objects that primarily consist of digital/electronic/mechanical components. Some of the methodologies may be similar (transitioning video artworks to digital media looks very similar to preserving, say, lecture films), but the policy (and training) issues are quite divergent. - koven.smith koven.smith Aug 23, 2013
  • add your response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • The 'public facing' potential of this is more of a risk -- the content won't be there for education and interpretation if it's not properly preserved. If teachers depend on certain resources for their teaching and they disappear, this causes a gap. As far as education *for* more museum professionals, this is well described above. - sheila.carey sheila.carey Aug 21, 2013
  • Digital preservation remains the critical step prior to go forward with new stuff. We see it is still a priority above all for most small museums. Added to that, choosing the right path for future deployment of preservation data is also very demanding: linked data is the way to go. Present tools for generating this type of data still have to get more friendly to get adopted by non technical people in the cultural heritage sectors. LODLAM, OPENGLAM AND OKF are good indicators of what the future of Linked data in and for libraries, archives and museums can bring.- gdeschenes gdeschenes Aug 26, 2013


(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - phecht phecht Aug 20, 2013 New Museum XFR STN http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/xfr-stn (artist-centered media archiving project)
  • Not really a preservation project, but CHIN recently published a Digital Preservation Toolkit. [[user:sheila.carey|1377087351] http://www.pro.rcip-chin.gc.ca/carrefour-du-savoir-knowledge-exchange/outils_preservation_numerique-digital_preservation_toolkit-eng.jsp> * The Getty is sponsoring in Online Collection Catalogues initiative, but it is less about preservation than to create better, iterative online catalogues...really rather 20th century if you ask me. But they are beginning to think more about preservation, which they suggest addressing by separating front end interfaces (i.e. websites) and back end databases. It's the expected strategy and good as far as it goes. But it really doesn't get to the heart of the matter. There is another international effort called Beyond PDF that is based at UC San Diego and in the Netherlands, and it is mostly an initiative out of the STEM disciplines that is about getting more rich media and source-linking into PDFs. Again, preservation is not the main focus.- weberj weberj Sep 2, 2013



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