PASIG 2017 (Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group) was hosted in Oxford this year at the Natural History Museum by Bodleian Libraries & Digital Preservation at Oxford and Cambridge (DPOC). I attended on all three days (11th -13th September), when I wasn’t working I had the opportunity to listen to some thought provoking talks centered around the issue of digital preservation.
One of the highlights of the conference for me, was a talk given by Natasa Milic-Frayling, the founder of Intact Digital. The presentation entitled ‘Ageing of Digital: Towards Managed Services for Digital Continuity’ demonstrated the innovative ways in which digital preservation issues are being approached.
Digital technology has a short lifespan; hardware and software become redundant and obsolete in a very short time, essentially outdated. This is known as ‘Legacy Software’, outdated software that no longer receives vendor support or updates.
This poses the problem – How can we manage the life-cycle of digital in the face of a dynamic and changing computing ecosystem?
Technologies are routinely changed, updated (sometimes at a cost), made redundant and retired. The value of digital assets needs to be protected. In the current climate there is an imbalance of power between the technology producers and providers and the content producers, owners and curators. The providers and producers can move on without the opinion or input of those who use the software.
How do we enable prolonged use of software to protect value of digital assets?
- Remote Access
- Digital Continuity Assurance Plans
The software can be hosted in a virtual machine and accessed remotely via a browser. The implications of this are far reaching for projects like the ones undertaken by the Fo Guang Shan. They don’t need to worry about the Cut&Search software becoming redundant and their digital assets remain protected. For smaller organisations operating on ever decreasing budgets this is an important step both for asset protection and digital preservation.
Key areas to develop
Although this is an important step, there is still much work to do and some key areas that need to be developed were highlighted. This will result in a sustained use of digital.
Economy around “retired” software
- Legal frameworks and sustainable business models
- New practices to create demand
- New services to make it efficient, economical and sustainable
Changes to the Ecosystem
In taking these steps and creating a dialogue between the technology producers/providers and the content producers it changes the dynamic of the ecosystem, readdressing the imbalance in control.
The talk ended with two very pertinent statements;
“Together we can create new practices andnew models of extending the life of digital”“Without digital continuity our digital content,information and knowledge has no future”
A complete collection of the slides relating to this topic can be found here; https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5415040.v1 Milic-Frayling, Natasa (2017): Aging of digital: Towards managed services for digital continuity. figshare.