On 6 March I attended the award-winning Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP) delivered in partnership with the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC). The trainers Ed Pinsent and Patricia Sleeman, digital archivists at ULCC, were both extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
As a newcomer to the digital preservation field at The National Archives, with a background of record advice/research and more recently IT, I was looking to gain a solid grounding and fundamental understanding of what digital preservation is and how it applies here. I also wanted to know what other institutions are doing to confront this challenge. There were people from various companies, organisations (big and small), backgrounds and professions from librarians to IT developers. This demonstrates how increasingly important digital preservation is becoming to many people.
This is a brief blog post about what I found most useful during the course and will hopefully make clearer to you what digital preservation is and how it all works.
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On Monday 28 January, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) hosted a file formats day of action, creatively titled ‘Bring Out Your Dead (Files)’ at the Wellcome Collection. As The National Archives’ resident File Format Signature Developer, I was invited to deliver a presentation on DROID and PRONOM, our file format identification tool and file format registry, and a workshop on Developing File Format Signatures for PRONOM.
My own talk reviewed DROID and PRONOM developments in 2012:
- DROID 6.1 was released in August. DROID development has switched to Github, and we have a Google Groups discussion page open for support enquiries
- The PRONOM registry has grown considerably, with 100 new file formats, 177 new file format signatures, and a full time researcher appointed
- PRONOM has been able to grow this much in part due to the wealth of external contributors who continue to provide us with file format signature and research information. Over a dozen institutions and individuals contributed last year
- Finally I was delighted to announce that the download for our DROID tool now has a permanent home on The National Archives’ own website.
My workshop focused on demystifying the file format research and signature development processes I undertake and allowed willing participants the chance to try developing their own signatures. Continue reading »
Ask anyone in our department at The National Archives and they will say I’m never short of words… Okay, ask anyone out of half a dozen or more departments at The National Archives and they’ll pretty much agree too! Well, that was up to today I suppose. Perhaps it’s writer’s block, perhaps it’s just the natural wrapping up of my duties given that (note it down Wikipedia!) tomorrow, 7 September, is my last day at the organisation. It has been three years, three months and seven days since I started, a fresh-faced C++ developer from the Midlands. My humanities background was Digital Culture at Kings College London and, between you and me, I think I might have confused digitisation with digital preservation at my interview (they let me through the net though!)
In three years, I’ve seen quite a lot happen in the world of digital preservation. I thought my last blog post for The National Archives might be an opportunity to put a shout-out to some of the existing community projects and initiatives which have already done enormous amounts for the cause and look set to continue this trend for a long time.
Digital Preservation Coalition - Save the Bits
Digital Preservation Coalition
While I am sure I was introduced to the Digital Preservation Coalition long before this, in February 2010 Planets held one of its ‘The Planets Way’ training events in London. The first day of the event was in a conference format and, just after lunch, William Kilbride from the DPC took the opportunity to say a few words about the work they do. The statement he made to the room that resonated with me to this day, and a sentiment that can make us all smile in digital preservation, was (to paraphrase):
“Once you solve the problem of digital preservation, I can retire.”
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