According to Horst Forster, director of the Directorate-General for Information Society and Media of the European Commission (EC), today's global collection of digital objects would create 200 stacks of paper that could reach to the sun, which translates to 1,021 terabytes of documents. Forster provided this memorable image at the Fifth International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects (iPRES 2008) at The British Library September 29-September 30 in London. Although digital preservation is slowly being added to the political agenda, especially by Forster's work at the EC, he says fewer than 20% of UK companies have any digital preservation policy. More than 60 detailed presentations followed the two keynote sessions. The presentations focused on two concurrent tracks: technology and practice. The digital preservation community may be small and distributed worldwide, but it is a close-knit community. Many speakers said the entire issue of digital preservation is just too complex for any single institution to deal with alone.
34 InformationToday November 2008 www.infotoday.com iPRES 2008: The Push for Digital Preservation Text and photos by JIM ASHLING | were present, but the group included plenty of people who are saving digital I n 1998, Peter Lyman and Brewster information or providing access to it. Kahle pointed out in D-Lib Maga- Whether today’s content creators are zine that AltaVista could search publishers or TV and movie studios, they the equivalent of a stack of paper 620 are as wary of digital archives as some miles high. journal publishers were of bibliographic By 2003, an article in In- database services more than 30 years R E P O RT formation Management Jour- ago. Naturally, they have fears of losing F R O M nal reported that a typical control of their content or of giving valu- T H E company’s Windows NT ser- able content away. F I E L D ver contained the equivalent Such fears were addressed in a session of a stack of documents 800 miles high. Ac- on modeling organizational goals. There is cording to Horst Forster, director of the Di- no point in preserving anything unless the rectorate-General for Information Society process helps an organization meet its and Media of the European Commission goals and mission. For example, in creat- (EC), today’s global collection of digital ob- ing a model digital preservation policy for jects would create 200 stacks of paper that higher education institutions, the Joint could reach to the sun, which translates Information Systems Committee (JISC) to 1,021 terabytes of documents. asked the question: “How does preserva- Forster provided this memorable im- tion help deliver research and education?” The British Library’s St. Pancras headquarters was the site of the Fifth International Conference on Preservation of age at the Fifth International Conference Digital Objects (iPRES). Many speakers said the entire issue of on Preservation of Digital Objects (iPRES digital preservation is just too complex for 2008) at The British Library (BL) Sept. niques; legislatures will also be urged to meral value, and Brindley believes that any single institution to deal with alone. 29–30 in London. The most important create preservation policies and to develop we now need to “join the pieces” and in- There are no comprehensive off-the-shelf point he made was that digital content is their legal deposit requirements. The EC crease public awareness. commercial solutions, so collaboration is now being produced at a rate that exceeds will also consider creating an appropriate Brindley reviewed four pioneering proj- the only route with a call for models, pro- our capacity to retain it. Forster main- curriculum for the position of digital cu- ects for BL: 1) Digital Lives is a research totypes, and pilots. Cornell University’s tains that this important data, which rep- rator, a role that has no real definition, un- project focusing on personal digital collec- participation in the now-defunct Live Book resents humankind’s collective memory, like that of an archivist or librarian. tions and their relationship with research Search project with Microsoft and with the is in danger of being lost. repositories, 2) Email Britain is a 1-month Google digitization program has shown Although digital preservation is slowly Permanent Access, snapshot of British life created from an that a flexible approach to a preservation being added to the political agenda, es- email archive of contributions from the policy is a necessity. pecially by Forster’s work at the EC, he Not Digital Preservation general public, 3) BL will participate in says fewer than 20% of U.K. companies Forster’s appeal for digital preservation creating a complete web archive of the Putting the Rhetoric of have any digital preservation policy. The was reflected earlier in the conference by entire U.K
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