My work in digital preservation has taught me that there are no purely technical solutions to the problem of preserving access to digital resources. The knowledge that is required to maintain access to the wide range of digital material we wish to preserve is too vast for individual organisations to collect alone.
However, working together, I believe it is possible for ‘memory institutions’ like national archives or libraries to help sustain and support the wider ecosystem of expertise that we need and will need in the future.
An ongoing theme of my research as been concerned with trying to find ways of making it easier to collaborate, and of making it simpler to compare and combine different tools that help us to preserve digital content. Currently, these efforts are being brought together under the digipres.org domain (kindly hosted by the Open Preservation Foundation).
For example, I created the latest version of the POWRR Tool Grid, based on the work of the well-received POWRR project. Crucially, this involved switching over to use the COPTR tools wiki as the data source, putting the future management and maintenance of the tool grid onto a more sustainable and collaborative footing.
As well as bringing tools together, I’ve long been interested in directly comparing tools and testing them against each other. Starting with identification tools, I have been working on ways of mapping the well-known ‘format registries’ into a single unified form so that their contents can be examined and compared. The results can be found on the formats section of digipres.org, and is the quickest way to find out which tools know about which file extensions and MIME types.
As a further attempt to help the members of the digital preservation community help each other, I was also involved in setting up the Digital Preservation Q&A site following the failures of the digital preservation and the libraries and information science StackOverflow sites.
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