The Open Archival Information System (OAIS) values the (future) user of the digital archive very much. This “Designated Community” of the archive need to be served by extra information about the archived material in order to be able to make “information” of the preserved bits in the content data object. The understandability of the content of the digital archive can be improved by contextual information about the archive. In a recent article in Alexandria, my colleague Kees Teszelszky and I describe our vision on how to present this contextual information about one special digital collection: the web collection.
The Nikhef website in 1992, the first in the Netherlands and the third worldwide.
Under the umbrella of the Network Digital Heritage (NDE), a Dutch working group focused on certification. I reported earlier on their results. Following the European Framework of Certification (the website is not updated since a while ago, but apart from that, the different levels of certification still make sense) the first level of certification is acquiring the Data Seal of Approval. Currently around 50 organisations are rewarded with this seal, in various disciplines. As NDE project group we expected we could learn from their experiences. We were particularly looking for some practical information so that our Dutch colleagues could be better prepared for the certification process. Things like time investment, the people that were involved and the benefits the certificate offered the organisations. Lees verder
What was called the “basic certification” in the pyramid of standards for certifying your digital repository, will now be called “Core Certification”. This is not the only outcome of merging the Data Seal of Approval criteria with the World Data Systems guidelines. Resulting in the new standard Core Trustworty Data Repositories Requirements.
The new standard contains the same topics like ISO 16363 (on top of the pyramid) with Organizational Infrastructure, Digital Object Management and Technology. Still there are 16 requirements to follow, although some new ones are added like “Security” and “Expert Guidance”, and others must have been removed, but this is not easy to discover. There is no document with a comparison between the old and the new. The reference to the Open Archival Information System OAIS) , prominent in the former DSA Guidelines, is now changed in a requirement for “repositories with a preservation remit” and focuses only on “archival storage”. I personally regret this limitation, as in practice every digital repository could/should use the guidance of OAIS. Lees verder
The Beggar (Rijksmuseum)
Based on the 4C Cost Model for Digital Preservation, a dedicated working group in the Network Digital Heritage created and validated an extension to the 4C Cost Model for Digital Preservation. This model will offer better insight into the costs of digital preservation, by detailed information based on activities and processes. Link this information to the institutional and preservation policies and this will offer a better insight in the costs and a better steering mechanism.
The Network Digital Heritage was initiated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, with a focus on exploring more the Dutch digital cultural heritage, by making our digital collections more visible, more connected with each other and more sustainable. This working group is one of the activities in the Program Sustainable acces.
Inspired by the European Project 4C
The financial experts from BMC Research used the results from the European project 4C (Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation). In this project a cost model was delivered (amongst other valuable results) and a tool, the CCEx module, which enables on an international scale to benchmark the costs related to digital preservation.
How do you build a bridge between thorough domain knowledge of a digital archivist and the sophisticated technical skills of an Information Technology expert, in order to achieve mutual goals and develop a “culture of collaboration”? The recently published OCLC report “Demystifying IT: A Framework for Shared Understanding between Archivists” by Seth Shaw, Richard C. Adler, and Jackie Dooley sketches the outlines of building this bridge.
This week we launched a Dutch translation of the Catalogue of Policy Elements as Duurzaamheidsbeleid , a wiki on the website of the National Coalition for Digital Preservation (NCDD).
The original Catalogue was created in the European project SCAPE (2010-2014) and is hosted on the website of the Open Preservation Foundation and one of their popular hits. The Dutch translation was initiated by the Network Digital Heritage, a national initiative to improve the accessibility, usability and sustainability of the Dutch cultural and scientific heritage.
The original catalogue is based on the SCAPE policy framework of three levels: the Guidance Policies on strategic level, the Preservation Procedure Policies on tactic level and the Control Policies on a detailed operational level. In the translation we followed the framework and the template but added Dutch policy examples from the archival and audio-visual domains. It is planned to extend this with examples from digital art collections, research data centres etc.
During the SCAPE project we found it hard to phrase preservation policies on the lowest level, the Control Policies. Control Policies require a thorough technical knowledge in order to formulate policies that are not only human readable (after all more people need to understand the requirements and policy decisions) but also computer actionable for automated workflows. Hence we decided to leave out this category in the Dutch translation.
But some new developments might help us. In the European project Preforma three suppliers are working on developing tools for conformance checking of file formats:
The work done on the conformance checkers generated a wealth of knowledge about the features of these file formats and one can use this information for the Control level policies. “Feature extraction” is one of the facilities that will be offered to the users of the tools. But the tools will also offer the possibility to indicate policy rules, based on these features. And this is exactly what we were hoping for when we were designing the SCAPE policy framework! This way it will be possible to create a consistent set of policies, whereby the lowest levels can refer to higher level decisions. It requires some file format knowledge to make a well-founded decision but the tools will assist the user. See for example the recent webinar about the VeraPDF policy checking of the Open Preservation Foundation.
A cure for preservation despair?
After Christmas I tried to reduce my digital pile of recent articles, conference papers, presentations etc. on digital preservation. Interesting initiatives (“a pan European AIP” in the e-Ark project: wow!) could not prevent that after a few days of reading I ended up slightly in despair: so many small initiatives but should not we march together in a shared direction to get the most out of these initiatives? Where is our vision about this road? David Rosenthals blog post offered a potential medicine for my mood.
He referred to the article of Richard Whitt “Through A Glass, Darkly” Technical, Policy, and Financial Actions to Avert the Coming Digital Dark Ages.” 33 Santa Clara High Tech. L.J. 117 (2017). http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/chtlj/vol33/iss2/1 Lees verder
As a late Christmas present I submitted a change for the OAIS review by suggesting to introduce the term Preservation Watch into the standard as part of the Preservation Planning module.
During the European project Planets (2007-2011) where we investigated the Preservation Planning functional entity, we had a feeling that the monitoring functionality in OAIS should be extended to other areas. In the standard the monitoring is very much focused on monitoring the Designated Community (of course, these are the people that will use your archive) and the Technology changes. Well it is generally accepted that the rapid changes in technology are seen as a threat to our collected digital files. But there are more threats, that should be monitored systematically and so need to be part of a Preservation Planning function. Changes in your organisation (budget cuts, staff cuts, a merge with another organisation), changes in the environment you’re operating in: political changes for example. The election of Donald Trump was one of the reasons Brewster Kahle of Internet Archive decided to have an extra copy of their archive outside the US.
After the Planets project was finished, the concept of Preservation Watch is taken up by the digital preservation community, for example in the SCAPE project and in various papers and presentations. This justifies for me the concept to be introduced into the OAIS standard. But it will be up to the community to better define this concept and to describe for example the relationship with risk management. This could be done in the next 5 years, so that after a soft introduction in 2017, a more profound description of the concept of Preservation Watch can be part of OAIS 2022. Let’s wait and see what the CCSDS people think of it.
Accompanied by traditional festival tunes of Scottish bagpipes the finalists of the 2016 Digital Preservation Awards and their colleagues “celebrated digital preservation”, as William Kilbride called this event last week in London. And in the audience the proud Dutch group of attendees celebrated even more as we won both the Award for Research and Innovation sponsored by the Software Sustainability Institute and the award for Safeguarding the digital legacy sponsored by The National Archives. The 17 international judges looked at 33 submissions, from 10 different countries. What was the magical ingredient that helped the Netherlands submitting 3 projects, two of them worthwhile to receive the trophees?
Last week I gave a presentation at the Pericles conference Acting on Change: New Approaches and Future Practices in LTDP in London. This is what I told during the panel about OAIS.
OAIS as a cage?
Is the OAIS standard a cage, with the preservation archive inside as a captivated bird? With clipped wings, unable to fly away, but kept inside by the functional model, the data model and metrics in OAIS and the related standards like the audit and certification standard?