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Category: future-proofing

New Skills for a Digital Era: Official Proceedings Now Available

New Skills for a Digital Era LogoFrom May 31st through June 2nd of 2006, The National Archives, the Arizona State Library and Archives, and the Society of American Archivists hosted a colloquium to consider the question “What are the practical, technical skills that all library and records professionals must have to work with e-books, electronic records, and other digital materials?”. The website for the New Skills for a Digital Era colloquium already includes links to the eleven case studies considered over the course of the three days of discussion as well as a list of additional suggested readings. As mentioned over on The Ten Thousand Year Blog, the pre-print of the proceedings has been available since August, 2007... 

Digital Preservation via Emulation – Dioscuri and the Prevention of Digital Black Holes

dioscuri.JPGAvailable Online posted about the open source emulator project Dioscuri back in late September. In the course of researching Thoughts on Digital Preservation, Validation and Community I learned a bit about the Microsoft Virtual PC software. Virtual PC permits users to run multiple operating systems on the same physical computer and can therefore facilitate access to old software that won’t run on your current operating system. That emulator approach pales in comparison with what the folks over at Dioscuri are planning and building. ... 

Will Crashed Hard Drives Ever Equal Unlabeled Cardboard Boxes?

Photo of Crashed Hard Drive - wonderferret on FlickrHow many of us have an old hard drive hanging around? I am talking about the one you were told was unfixable. The one that has 3 bad sectors. The one they replaced and handed to you in one of those distinctive anti-static bags. You know the ones I mean – the steely grey translucent plastic ones that look like they should contain space food.

I have more than one ‘dead’ hard drive. I can’t quite bring myself to throw them out – but I have no immediate plans to try and reclaim their files. ... 

Preserving Virtual Worlds – TinyMUD to SecondLife

A recent press release from the Library of Congress, Digital Preservation Program Makes Awards to Preserve American Creative Works, describes the newly funded project aimed at the preservation of ‘virtual worlds’:

The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction. Major activities will include developing basic standards for metadata and content representation and conducting a series of archiving case studies for early video games, electronic literature and Second Life, an interactive multiplayer game. Second Life content participants include Life to the Second Power, Democracy Island and the International Spaceflight Museum. Partners: University of Maryland, Stanford University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Linden Lab. ... 

Phoenix DVD destined for Mars

Hubble's Sharpest View Of Mars

When the Phoenix Mars Mission launches (possible as early as this Friday August 3rd, 2007), it will have something unusual on board. The Planetary Society has created what they call the Phoenix DVD.

In late May of 2007 they proudly announced that their special DVD was ready for launch:

… the silica glass mini-DVD with a quarter million names on it (including all Planetary Society members) has been installed on the Phoenix spacecraft and is ready to go to Mars! ... 

Thoughts on Digital Preservation, Validation and Community

The preservation of digital records is on the mind of the average person more with each passing day. Consider the video below from the recent BBC article Warning of data ticking time bomb.


Microsoft UK Managing Director Gordon Frazer running Windows 3.1 on a Vista PC
(Watch video in the BBC News Player)

The video discusses Microsoft’s Virtual PC program that permits you to run multiple operating systems via a Virtual Console. This is an example of the emulation approach to ensuring access to old digital objects – and it seems to be done in a way that the average user can get their head around. Since a big part of digital preservation is ensuring you can do something beyond reading the 1s and 0s – it is promising step. It also pleased me that they specifically mention the UK National Archives and how important it is to them that they can view documents as they originally appeared – not ‘converted’ in any way. ... 

Considering Historians, Archivists and Born Digital Records

I think I renamed this post at least 12 times. My original intention was was to consider the impact of born digital records on the skills needed for the historian/researchers of the future. In addition I found myself exploring the dividing lines among a number of possible roles in ensuring access to the information written in the 1s and 0s of our born digital records.

After my last post about the impact of anonymization of Google Logs, a friend directed me to the work of Dr. Latanya Sweeney. Reading through the information about her research I found Trail Re-identification: Learning Who You are From Where You Have Been. Given enough data to work with, algorithms can be written that often can re-identify the individuals who performed the original searches. Carnegie Mellon University‘s Data Privacy Lab includes the Trails Learning Project with the goal of answering the question “How can people be identified to the trail of seemingly innocent and anonymous data they leave behind at different locations?”. So it seems that there may be a lot of born digital records that start out anonymous but that may permit ‘re-identification’ – given the application of the right tools or techniques. That is fine – historians have often needed to become detectives. They have spent years developing techniques for the analysis of paper documents to support ‘re-identification’. Who wrote this letter? Is this document real or a forgery? Who is the ‘Mildred’ referenced in this record? ...