Wednesday, 18 May 2011

AIMS: the UnConference

Not two full weeks into my new job as Digital Archivist at UVa on the AIMS grant, I rolled up my sleeves to facilitate and host an unconference with my fellow Digital Archivists. Our unconference would be two full days of discussions, demonstrations, lightning talks, and networking with digital archivists from around the globe. At first the thought was a little terrifying – I’m not even fully sure I know what this job is yet, how could I actually lead discussions on the salient topics? But my fears were baseless: all the unconference attendees were thoughtful, articulate, and lively participants. I learned much more from them than they probably did from me.

The unconference was held on the 13th and 14th of May at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. The 27 participants represented libraries, archives, museums, and digital humanities centers across the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Despite the differences in our institutions, backgrounds, and training, we learned that we not only shared similar challenges, but also the same hopes for collaboration and innovation.

The first day started off with a round of lightning talks. Each participant had 5 minutes to present a topic, project, problem or idea that they were interested in talking about. The variety in the talks was remarkable to me, traversing the breadth and depth of all that can be thought of as “born-digital” and the many processes involved in managing it. The lightning talks were also great way to get an introduction to each participant as well as their perspective or the particular issues they were dealing with in their institution. A brief outline of each of the talks is available on the AIMS Unconference Wiki.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Workshop on "Using FTK Imager and AccessData FTK to Capture and Process Born Digital Materials"

On April 22, I conducted a 2-hour workshop on "Using FTK Imager and AccessData FTK to Capture and Process Born Digital Materials.” The purpose of the workshop was to give staff a hands-on experience in using FTK Imager and AccessData FTK. Eight colleagues from the Stanford University Libraries attended the workshop – primarily from Special Collections and University Archives and the Humanities and Social Sciences Group.

The workshop covered the following:

FTK Imager – how to:
1. Download and install the software (free software -
2. Create a forensic image of an USB flash drive.
3. Create a logical image of the same flash drive.

AccessData FTK – how to:
1. Load an image – for this workshop we used a sampling from the Stephen Jay Gould papers.
2. View technical metadata generated by the software.
3. Arrange column settings to see specific file attribute (e.g. duplicate files).
4. Search for social security numbers using pattern search.
5. Test the full-text search function.
6. Flag files with sensitive information with "privileged" tag (such as those with social security numbers, etc.)
7. Use the bookmark feature for hierarchical information and apply it to groups of files (e.g. series, subseries, etc.)
8. Label groups of files with user defined labels (controlled vocabulary for computer storage media, document type suggested in the workshop, subject headings or access rights, etc.)
9. View files with specific bookmarks and labels.

Many incoming collections are hybrid collections – containing both analog and digital material. The digital component will become even greater as we move forward. Empowering all archivists to use a tool such as AccessData FTK to process the digital materials would be very useful.