Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Practical Approaches to Electronic Records

On Friday I attended the excellent Practical Approaches to Electronic Records event in  Dundee. The programme included thought provoking discussions from Dr Ian Anderson (HATII) and Malcolm Todd (TNA) who both stressed the importance of demonstrating ‘value’ and ‘relevance’ to our organisations, and the need to develop new partnerships with colleagues working in digital forensics, ICT departments and universities to tackle the challenge of digital preservation. WillIam Kilbride (Digital Preservation Coalition) offered some interesting personal reflections on digital preservation and the conclusion that it is not about ‘data’, ‘access’ or ‘risk’ but about people and outcomes.

The afternoon was especially timely as it featured two demonstrations of ingest tools -  something the AIMS project is currently working on. Viv Cothey showed us the work he has done at Gloucestershire Archives on the SCAT tool and this was followed by Peter Cliff demonstrating the BEAM Ingest tool being developed at the Bodleian. Both tools have adopted a modular approach to utilise many of the excellent and widely adopted 3rd party tools such as PRONOM, Jhove and FITS and this is the obvious route to follow as we seek to create an ingest tool that is integrated with the Fedora digital repository.

The day ended with Chris Prom summarising his work to identify and compare many of the open source tools that are available. He encouraged everybody to get involved with a software project and listed the elements that he thought made an excellent Open Source project citing archivematica as a good example as it provided regular updates, clear documentation, availability of source code and support wiki.

Monday, 17 May 2010

ECA 2010

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to present a poster about the AIMS project at the 8th European Conference on Digital Archiving at Geneva. The poster attracted a fair amount of interest and in particular the intention to share the tools and best practice with other institutions – many of the other sessions and some posters presenting what were quite institution-specific solutions.

Reflections on the conference
– though with 7 simultaneous sessions there was only some much any one person could see!

First session after the initial keynote welcome was an interesting session “
Envisioning Archival Description” by Victoria Lemieux & Geoffrey Yeo about using visualisation software to represent data and reflect relationships between words, as tested using the British Cabinet papers. There wasn’t enough time for a live demonstration, but the potential of offering an intuitive visual mechanism for looking at large volumes of data was really interesting. Information about word frequency for example could also be used by the archivist to assist with describing the records. The $64,000 questions are the cost of the software and what data / formats this is appropriate for?

There was also a good overview from Robert Sharpe of Tessella about obsolescence, characterisation and preservation planning with particular emphasis on the Planets Framework of tools.

Jaap Kamps “What makes a User Click?” was a timely reminder of the different search strategies between experts and novices and something we must return to when considering making born digital archives accessible on-line.

Jane Stevenson gave a review of the Archives
EAD editor for the
Archives Hub that can now include links to digital objects but emphasised that the files need to be stored locally – they are not a repository. Also reminded me that we (Hull University) owe the Hub some data!

Day 1 ended with a session by Daniel Pitti,
who I met many years ago as EAD took-off in the UK, giving an account of a new
2 year project which seeks to create tools to automatically extract authority records using the new Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) standard. The project will start with an initial body of more than 30,000  EAD finding aids and look to combine this with more than 10m name authorities from the Library of Congress and OCLC. The aim is to take a step beyond personal name indexes and show a network of relationships (eg between correspondents). With the University of Virginia being one of the project partners it is hoped that AIMS can collaborate with this project further down the line.

Days 2 and 3 to follow...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Digital Forensic Lab at Stanford University


I am so lucky to work as digital archivist at Stanford. One of the reasons is that Michael Olson from our Digital Library System Service group set up a digital forensics lab last year at Stanford. We have Forensic Tookit and EnCase installed in a FRED (Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device) in the lab. Michael also maintains a blog about Digital Forensic at Stanford University.



I'm getting geared up to attend the 2010-2011 DigCCurr Professional Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill next week. I'm looking forward to meeting my peers in the field, learning more about the life cycle of digital objects and getting some hands-on experience with tools to assist with their management over the long haul.

I'll be posting more about this institute once I've actually attended it; in the meantime, here's a bit of info:

DigCCurr Institute