Last week the 5th episode in a series of webinars on software preservation was launched. The series is organized by the Software Preservation Network in the USA and the Digital Preservation Coalition in the UK.
Although preservation of software was already a topic in digital preservation for years, several developments in the last few years made the topic more pressing.
The acceptance of emulation as a mature preservation strategy is one of them, this strategy needs the original software in order to be successful. In the beginning of this century there were some scattered initiatives with the Camileon project in the UK (rescuing the Domesday Book) and the activities in the National Library of the Netherlands. Some partners were brought together in the European projects Planets and Keep (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable, website gone sadly, but scattered documentation still on the web), where practitioners like libraries and archives collaborated with research institutions like the University of Freiburg and suppliers like Preservica (then Tessella), leading to the Dioscuri prototype. This was further developed in Freiburg (Klaus Rechert, Dirk von Suchodoletz and others) into Emulation as a Service, which is in production in several environments.
But the variety of preserved material also grew: digital art and games became more prominent, and recently with the focus on FAIR principles also the research data and the accompanying software are involved. Preserving the software becomes more an issue.
All aspects like put it into practice, who is doing what and why, copyright issues, how to deal with new developments where software is no longer in a box but “rented” from the supplier etc. are part of the webinar series. After an introduction of the history and the current state of affairs in episode 1, the other episodes give the floor the practical side of it. We hear representatives from representatives in a variety of domains explaining their mission and goals and also the challenges they face in preserving the software to keep their collections accessible. From architecture to research data, from art to the more traditional forms in libraries and archives. It is inspiring to see how many initiatives there are, both on a local level, country level as well as internationally and how people are willing to collaborate. It shows that preservation is now affecting all kinds of domains and only doing it together can make us successful.
Everyone can view the webinars on the DPC website. The nice thing is that each episode is accompanied with “Supplementary Resources” in which the major publications around the theme of the episode are collected, including blogs and websites Also the related chat can be read.
In July 2018 two episodes will be broadcasted, focusing on legal challenges. A great initiative, go and watch them all!