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  • Preserving our digital present for future memories: technical and social challenges

    XXXIV Reunin Nacional de Archivos 2012Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mxico

    Francisco BarbedoDireo Geral do Livro, Arquivos e Bibliotecas

  • What is digital preservation

    A case study

    DP problems

    Solutions: community building


  • So What is digital preservation? Keep digital information available (usable,

    authentic, reliable) For the time it is operationally required and

    socially relevant. (may be 20 y, or forever) Independently of the technology originally used The objective of preservation is not only to

    transmit our heritage to future generations and maintain the capability to understand and reuse what we have preserved, but also to permit the ongoing use of information inside institutions

    Well get back to this..

  • Digital information, digital object

    Digital information is functionally similar to paper, in the way that both support business actvities. But its features turn it into a completely different object.

    0 and 1 are difficult to read

    Things change, disapear, cease its existence Software, hardware, knowledge, people

  • Digital information, digital object

    Digital information depends of an intermediarysystem. Can not be used/accessed directly by thehuman being.

  • Intermediary system

    The intermediary system is the software andhardware in which the information wasproduced. But has also other components likeoperative system, applets, java, browsers, etc

    Greater complexity and richeness ofinformation.

    Its everywhere. Everybody has it and produce it


  • Digital information, digital object Informatic industry Very quickly evolving market Fast pace of obsolescence Av. 7 years backwards compatibility If no preservation actions are performed, the

    risk of obsolescence increases considerabily after7 years

    This means of course that the need of preservingdigital information has become part of theagenda of institutions

  • Digital information, digital object

    The problem with obsolescence is that we can no longer access the information because the IS in which was produced does not exist anymore

    We may still have the information that we can no longer access, probably stored in a, alsoarchaic, media, to which we no longer possessthe adequate devices to run

  • A real case: Gabinete da rea de Sines Year: 1971 Time of existente: 1971-1989 Place: Sines, Portugal Mission : manage the construction of a

    international deep water harbour; urbanisingthe region around, build and run a big energycentral (the biggest in Portugal, by that time)

    Big project, lots of resources Informatic resources acquired (mainframe

    computer . UNIVAC)


  • A real case: Gabinete da rea de Sines

    The documentation was ingested in the NationalArchives

    Among 13.864 boxes, 88 magnetic tapes containing data

    Actions developed: Find a company with devices and knowledge to

    read the tapes. Not found in Portugal. Eventuallya company in UK commited to the job

    Data existed in the tapes: refreshed to a DVD


  • 11

  • 12

  • Case study

    We received a lot of files containing data.

    Was the problem solved? NO

    Because the data appeared like this


  • 14

    B :P S (E(E [ (E(E(qq0 3 ?

    C (E(E(E @

  • Digital information, digital object What do we need to perform digital preservation? Standards ..we actually have some and are pretty

    effective (OAIS - ISO 14721) Certification. ISO 16363 (Audit and certification of trustworthy

    digital repositories) European Framework for Audit and Certification of

    Digital Repositories Strategies and methods. We have fairly good

    methods of preserving information although not allinformation can be totally preserved. Eg. Migration

  • Digital information, digital object

    Anything else??

    Oh, thats right

    MONEY lots of it and forever

  • DP problems: review

    1. Technological2. Financial3. Legal4. Trustworthiness of repositories5. Loss of knowledge6. Social issues

  • DP: technological issues Software upgrades fail to support legacy files. The format itself is superseded by another or evolves in

    complexity. The format "take up" is low or industry fails to create

    compatible software. The format fails, stagnates, or is no longer compatible with

    the current environment. Software supporting the format fails in the marketplace or is

    bought by a competitor and withdrawn. Hardware also evolves very quickly. New software does not

    run on old hardware and vice versa. Storage media and systems , including compression

    algorithms and backup technology are highly volatile

    In any case the information becomes technologically isolated, ant becomes impossible to access and to use.

  • DP: formats Without a format specification, a file is just a

    meaningless string of ones and zeros. The specification indicates the proper subdivision, encoding, sequence, arrangement, size, and internal relationships that uniquely identify the particular format and allow it to be properly interpreted and rendered.

    If the specification is open, ie, everybody can consult it, the problem is mitigated.

    BUTMost of the times vendors keep their specifications closed , even those that have been discontinued.

  • DP: legal issues What can we really preserve?

    The objet or a representation of the object?

    Everytime we act over the information for preservationpurposes, we change it and it becomes, in a certain way, different from the original information. Thats whathappens with migration

    The fact is that law is still being made thinking in the waysthings worked in the paper world. But paper is not digitalWecan not expect digital information to behave like paper. Although it is all information.

    Plus. We must consider digital rights about material to bepreserved

  • DP: financial issues Factors that affect dp costs:

    The cost of the digital archival system (a digital depot or repository) and functionality for the long term preservation of digital records

    + Personnel costs

    + The cost of the development (or procurement) of

    software and methods for the preservation of digital records, eg, conversors.

    + The cost of the actual storage of digital records

    + Other factors that exert an influence on the total

    1. eg,. communications

  • DP: financial issues As Dp is a permanent process, money must keep

    supporting that effort.

    The amount of information to be preserved has a cumulative growth (just like in the paper world).

    DP is a highly expensive business, and there are no guarantees whatsoever of any organisationbeing financially able to support DP on the longterm.

  • DP: trustworthiness of repositories Difficult to prove the efectiveness of our preservation

    methods at a long term. Simply because not enough time has elapsed since we started digitally preserving

    Informatics has c. 61 years existence (1951 UNIVAC 1st commercialcomputer. Paper existes since many centuries.

    How can we certify that we really are effectivelypreserving information that was delivered to us?

    How is trust build?

    Certification of digital repositories, helps. The concept is identical to ISO 9000. If a repository is certified according to a recognised standard, weexpect that it runs its business effectively

    Standard ISO 16363 for digital repositories certification.

  • What do we expect from repositories? Long-term preservation of readability and accessibility

    in a way that is independent from any specific software or hardware

    Reliability and authenticity of digital records while carrying them across successive generations of information technologies. Because we are talking or archival information and evidence

    Scalability to accommodate a huge amount of data and records

    Users expect Low cost, Low trouble

    But is all this possible?


  • DP: trustworthiness of repositories What compromise to Dp can/should we assume?

    Because we shouldnt do promises we are notcertain to keep.

    We can testify that a bit sequence has not beenphysically changed or corrupted

    We must be able to preserve metadata about thatbit sequence, which means data about itsstructure, digital rights, original process, intermediary system, social environement, etc

  • DP: Preserving knowledge Because

    The social and organisational environementsdisapear, so: how are we suppose to be able to recreate it, i.e, to preserve knowledge?

    Metadata helps a lot. Because it documents allaspects of the information to be preserved, so as it can be recreated in the future.

  • DP: Social issues

    To have a better understanding on digital preservation social issues, we must take a short trip on globalisation and information growth


  • globalisation Globalisation is about things, people, countries

    getting closely connected. For good and bad times!

    The actions we (individual or collective agents) perform have global impact in everyones life(whether minor or major)

    This fact is in part due to information massification, which is greatly explained by the possibilities offeredby technology Information production increases, is more complex,

    rich and disseminates q


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