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OPF Blog: The Registries We Need

··325 words
Format-Registries Digital Preservation Format Registry
Andy Jackson
Andy Jackson
Fighting entropy since 1993

A new OPF blog entry: The Registries We Need. Reproduced below...

If you've not already read it, I urge you to go and read Ben Fino-Radin's piece on XFN STN, called:


I found it both truthful and inspiring…

Truthful, because the chaotic path of discovery involved in understanding mysterious digital media reflected my own experiences on similar digital preservation adventures, both for the library and for the AQuA and SPRUCE projects. 

Inspiring, because it brought new light to my old concerns about format/software/hardware registry systems. I've long been worried that they have not been designed with their users in mind. Specifically, the users that know all of this information and are willing to spend time sharing it. Why would they do it? What incentive would they need? What form of knowledge sharing would they choose?

Upon reading Ben's article, things became clearer. As I twittered at the time:

Now, go through and read it one more time, and think about how such a registry could actually have helped. What would it need to include? [t]

Could it really replace the expertise of those five (or so) people? Or should its purpose be to capture and link what they have achieved? [t]

Is the answer really in building registries? Or is it better to run more XFR STNs and help document and preserve what they do? [t]

Maybe we don't know what information we need? Maybe we don't even know who or what we are building registries for? Are we trying to replace imagination and expertise with an encyclopedia? Is it wrong to focus on the information, and ignore the people? Do we need a registry if we have a community of expertise to rely on? Should that community come first, and then be allowed to build whatever it needs?
Maybe running and documenting more events like XFR STN and AQuA/SPRUCE is the only way to find out?