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Reflections on the Digital Preservation Handbook Book Sprint 28-29 October 2014

What a terrific couple of days! We completed a two day book sprint in London last week focussing on developing new content for the first release of the next edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook that is being funded by The National Archives, the British Library, and Jisc. Really pleased with the outputs and progress we made.

A group of 11 people Matthew Addis (Arkivum), Neil Beagrie (Charles Beagrie Ltd), Stephanie Davidson (West Yorkshire Archive Service), Michael Day (British Library), Matt Faber (Jisc), Chris Fryer (Parliamentary Archives), Anna Henry (the Tate Gallery), William Kilbride (DPC), Ed Pinsent (ULCC), Virginia Power (Jisc), Susan Thomas (Bodleian Library Oxford), met up over two days to progress sections of the content for the new “Technical Solutions and Tools” chapter of the Handbook (as identified in the Draft Outline of the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook). Accommodation for the sprint was kindly provided by the Jisc in their central London offices via the good offices of Neil Grindley.

We have completed draft sections for:

  • Tools (including guidance on Tool Registries)
  • Media and Storage
  • File Formats
  • Digital Forensics

In addition a content outline was agreed for the “Getting Started” sub-section of the Introduction.  Alongside this work, other sections including the Background, How to Use the Handbook, Definitions and Concepts, Acronyms and Initials, and References have been partially revised as we went.

The revision has been guided by the user feedback and consultation (see Report on the Preparatory User Consultation on the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook) in short to keep the Handbook text practical, concise, and accessible with more detail available in the case studies and further reading.

This was the first book sprint for all bar one of the participants. We learnt a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of “Booktype” the open source software we used that had been developed to help support this type of activity, eventually settling on using it in parallel with collaborative text tools such as Google Docs to get the best from each approach. A two-day book sprint was very intense but few could have spared more time away from the workplace, and as one participant said a tight-deadline helped everyone focus on the tasks in hand.

At the end of the sprint the challenge was set to aim to make the new content available within 3 months – we hope sufficient additional sections to create a ready critical mass, potentially the complete Tools and Solutions Chapter of the Handbook can be readied and transferred to the DPC website and reviewed for release in the New Year.

A Thank-You to the SMPTE and Colleagues

The official company press release on the Archival Technology Medal award is out but I wanted to add an individual thank you to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and my colleagues.

First of all, a big thank-you to the SMPTE for the great personal honour and for all the work it is doing through the SMPTE Archival Technology Medal Award to raise awareness of digital preservation challenges and solutions. Film and television reach into every sector of society and around the globe and the SMPTE’s leadership is important not just to the film and television industries but beyond.

Secondly, digital preservation is highly collaborative. I feel I have done my best work over my career in partnership with others. I am fortunate to have co-workers, colleagues, and collaborators who are often world- leading in their fields and to whom I owe a great deal professionally. From television, sound and software engineers to librarians, archivists and economists they have been a pleasure to work and collaborate with.

The citation for the 2014 Archival Technology Medal specifically mentions the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and the Jisc digital preservation programme and my early involvement in their establishment. The ongoing success of the DPC, Jisc and its services over the last decade in digital preservation is due to the leadership and staff of these bodies and they have had continuing international impact in their work.

Finally my thanks to SMPTE members and other colleagues for their messages of congratulation and kind words on the announcement.

2014 Archival Technology Medal Awarded to Neil Beagrie

 

Press Release Date 30/10/2014

Award of the 2014 SMPTE Archival Technology Medal to Neil Beagrie

At a ceremony in Hollywood on 23 October 2014, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®) awarded the 2014 Archival Technology Medal to Neil Beagrie in recognition of his long-term contributions to the research and implementation of strategies and solutions for digital preservation.

The full citation for the award reads “Mr. Beagrie played a key role in the development of a collaborative approach to the study and dissemination of knowledge relating to Digital Preservation, Research Data Management, Digital Curation and Data Archives.  He was responsible for establishing the Digital Preservation Coalition, with major members from industry, national libraries, broadcasters and archives. In addition, he was responsible for establishing the digital preservation program within Jisc.  This program helped to create the Digital Curation Centre, which seeks to actively manage, preserve, and curate digital data throughout the research lifecycle.”

William Kilbride, Executive Director of the Digital Preservation Coalition said: “‘I am delighted to hear that Neil’s work is being recognised with this well-deserved accolade.  He is highly regarded among colleagues in the UK and internationally for his calm, approachable manner, his clear advice, and the high standards he sets.  These virtues are woven into the fabric of the Digital Preservation Coalition, an organisation which he helped create.  I extend congratulations on behalf of all of the DPC’s members and staff, and we are honoured that DPC should be associated with this award.”

Rachel Bruce, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer, from Jisc added: “This award is recognition not only of Neil’s enormous contribution to digital preservation over the years but also the work he has done to clarify and explain aspects of managing research data. This has focused particularly on economic perspectives with the ‘Keeping Research Data Safe’ phases of work and more recently with an influential series of reports on the value of data centres. We are delighted that SMPTE has honoured Neil in this way, it is very much deserved, and we are pleased that some of the initiatives that Jisc has established, such as the digital preservation coalition and our research data programmes and services, are acknowledged as globally valuable.”

The SMPTE is the worldwide leader in motion-imaging standards and education for the communications, media, entertainment, and technology industries.

The SMPTE Archival Technology medal recognizes significant technical advancements or contributions related to the invention or development of technology, techniques, workflows, or infrastructure for the long-term storage, archive, or preservation of media content essence.

Pervasive, fluid and fragile: digital data is a defining feature of our age. The creative industries, Government, research and education, health, the heritage sector, and private life depend on digital materials to satisfy ubiquitous information needs. Digital preservation is an issue which all organisations and individuals will need to address. The 2014 award can also be viewed as a reflection of:

  • the growing importance of digital preservation to major industries such as film and television as their content is dominated by digital; and
  • the profile that digital preservation and research data management in the UK has achieved internationally in the last decade and the impact of the UK Digital Preservation Coalition and Jisc innovation programmes.

Others recognised by the SMPTE at the 2014 Honors & Awards Ceremony included George Lucas and John Logie Baird.

Further information

Neil Beagrie is Director of Consulting at Charles Beagrie Limited (www.beagrie.com), an independent consultancy company based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK, specialising in the digital archive, library, science and research sectors.

Charles Beagrie Limited email: info@beagrie.com ; telephone +44 (0)1722 338482

William Kilbride, Digital Preservation Coalition (www.dpconline.org) email: William@dpconline.org ; telephone +44 (0)7967128632

A low, medium, and high resolution version of the photograph of the award at the SMPTE 2014 Honors and Awards Dinner and Ceremony is available for editorial use only at https://www.flickr.com/photos/smpte/15650350081/in/set-72157648600445387 . The Editorial Use Only license means that the images cannot be used for commercial advertising purposes. An Editorial Use Only image can be used: in a newspaper or magazine article; on a blog or website for descriptive purposes; or in a non-commercial presentation.

SMPTE 2014 Honours and Awards Press Release - https://www.smpte.org/2014honors_awards

1st book sprint for Digital Preservation Handbook next week

I’m starting to really look forward to the book sprint for the Digital Preservation Handbook next week.

Final preparations are now in place and we are ready to go. 11 people are contributing over a two-day sprint that will focus on developing new content in key areas such as “Technical Solutions and Tools” and “Getting Started”. The aim is to address some of the new areas identified in the recent audience survey and new content outline.

This will be the first “book sprint” I have been involved in as a facilitator (or participant) so that anticipation is mixed with a bit of nervousness. However there is a great bunch of people involved so we should be productive. Expect a blog post late next week reporting on how it went.

Salisbury one of top ten cities in the world to visit in 2015

Civic pride this morning as Lonely Planet voted Salisbury one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2015.

It is a good place for Charles Beagrie Ltd to be based too!

Survey results and the contents outline for new edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook just published

A big thank-you from Neil Beagrie and William Kilbride to everyone who contributed to the recent audience research survey or who  commented on the potential contents outline for the new edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook.

Following that work, the DPC and Charles Beagrie Ltd are delighted to announce the release two important documents which will form the foundations of the new edition of the DPC Digital Preservation Handbook: the results of a major survey into audience needs, an the first full outline of content.

‘We are very keen to make sure that the new edition of the handbook fits with people’s actual needs so we were very encouraged by the substantial response to the consultation document which we sent out before summer’ explained Neil Beagrie who is editor and lead author of the new edition of the handbook. ‘We estimate that the digital preservation community represented on the JiscMail list numbers around 1500 people in total: and there were 285 responses to the survey.’

‘It a very large sample of the community but it’s also re-assuringly diverse.  There’s a strong representation from higher education and public sector agencies but there’s also a sizeable group from industry, from charities as well as museums and community interest groups.  When asked if they would use the handbook, not a single respondent said no.’

‘The survey has directly informed the contents of the new handbook’, explained William Kilbride, Execuitve Director of the DPC.  ‘We started with an idea of the gaps and the many parts that had become outdated since the original handbook was published.  So we invited users to tell us what they wanted and how they wanted it – both in terms of content and presentation.  The project team has responded thoughtfully to these requests so I am confident that the resulting list of content is tailored to people’s needs. But we remain open to suggestions and comments’

‘This will help ensure that the handbook remains relevant for many years to come.’

The two documents are available as follows:

Science and Innovation: ESDS Impact study is 1 of 3 Stand-Out Studies Internationally

Our ESDS Impact Study was selected in a recent BIS report as one of just three studies internationally considered to “stand out as being particularly good examples of good practice in the measurement of economic impacts”.

In case readers haven’t seen it (or like us have a large “to read pile”), we are flagging up the “Big Science and Innovation” report undertaken for the UK Government Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) that was published in October last year (Technopolis 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/big-science-and-innovation–2 ).

The report presents the findings of a study to explore the impact of large research facilities on innovation and the economy. It is a reference document, providing advice about approaches to the evaluation of innovation outcomes alongside a review and bibliography of around 100 past evaluations internationally.

The report mentions our impact study of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) for the ESRC on pages 31-32, 36, 37 and appendix E on p87. They discuss our strengths and weaknesses on p91 (note our Archaeology Data Service and British Atmospheric Data Centre impact studies were underway but had not reported when this report was being written). They noted the element of the counter factual in our approaches (the only study they found to do so), but do not really mention that we did address the issue of representativeness through weighting the results, and had innovation impacts (highly and implicitly) in the return on investment model.

They identified 18 published reports that had measured the economic benefits made possible by specific research infrastructures, and which they considered to be of sufficient quality to be instructive to BIS and colleagues. John and I were very pleased to be selected and highlighted to BIS as one of just three studies which they considered to stand out as being particularly good examples of good practice in the measurement of economic impacts from all the international studies they reviewed. The three good practice studies were:

  • The economic impact study for the Berkeley Lab (by CBRE Consulting, 2010)
  • The study of the economic impact of the Human Genome Project (by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, 2011)
  • The economic impact evaluation of the Economic and Social Data Service (carried out by Charles Beagrie Ltd and The Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) University of Victoria, 2012)

On completion of the ESDS, ADS and BADC impact studies, we authored a synthesis to summarise and reflect on the combined findings. This was published by Jisc earlier this year see The Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation: A synthesis of three recent studies of UK research data centres. If you are interested in our ESDS impact study and the methods, issues, and findings, we would recommend the synthesis for a short overview and summary of our work. Alternatively, the full report of the ESDS study is available from the ESRC website.

Neil Beagrie and John Houghton

Digital Preservation Technology Watch Reports pass 72,000 Downloads

Last month the new series of Digital Preservation Coalition Technology Watch Reports passed the 72,000 downloads mark: these are downloads by real users excluding robots etc.

The new series was launched publicly in February 2012 with Preserving Email by Chris Prom and there are now 8 titles published since that date. All have proved very popular: Preserving Email still heads the group with over 20,000 downloads (but has been available for longest), followed by Preserving Moving Picture and Sound with over 12,000, and Digital Forensics and Preservation with over 11,000.

The new series was chosen by the Library of Congress as one of its Top 10 Digital Preservation Developments of 2012.

The reports are published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as editors and Neil Beagrie as Principal Investigator and managing editor of the series. The series is intended as an advanced introduction to specific issues for those charged with establishing or running services for long term access.  They identify and track developments in IT, standards and tools which are critical to digital preservation activities. All are released as peer-reviewed open-access publications after a preview period of exclusive access to DPC members.

The DPC Technology Watch Report Series publications are freely available online from the DPC website at: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/technology-watch-reports

Trending: The Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation

A colleague has pointed out that our synthesis report for Jisc on the Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation has had over 3,900 downloads since April 2014. You can see the stats and access the report here on the Jisc Repository.

It is great to see that there is a very high level of interest in the topic and report. I’m not sure how that figure compares, but if you have done work for Jisc you should now be able to search or browse the Jisc repository and see the download stats for your own work. Potentially, access to the Jisc repository stats is going to be very useful for those involved in REF or needing to demonstrate their  impact to their institutions and other stakeholders.

Public release of new ‘Preserving eBooks’ Technology Watch Report

We are pleased to announce the publication of Preserving eBooks, the latest in the series of Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) Technology Watch Reports. Written by Portico’s Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey, and published in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as managing editors, the report discusses the current developments and issues with which public, national and higher education libraries, publishers, aggregators and preservation institutions must contend to ensure long-term access to eBook content.

Archive Services Product Manager for Portico in the USA, Amy explains that “an increasingly ‘digital native’ population with new expectations such as efficient automated search, retrieval and re-use of information, as well as cost pressures on the production and storage of new publications, have made the eBook as a mode of publication a fact on the ground for the foreseeable future.”

With this in mind, the report examines legal questions about the use, re-use, sharing and preservation of eBook objects; format issues, including the sometimes tight coupling of eBook content with particular hardware platforms; the embedding of digital rights management artefacts in eBook files to restrict access to them; and the diverse business ecosystem of eBook publication, with its associated complexities of communities of use and, ultimately, expectations for preservation.

Sheila adds that “while large-scale digitization of print books has created valuable and widely used digital surrogates for those books that are being put to uses impossible with print books, it has also introduced certain quality assurances issues, and has also embroiled institutions in legal entanglements arising from both the eBook’s similarity to, and difference from, its print source.”

Collections Management Officer at the University of North Carolina, Luke Swindler, admires the way the report “sketches the salient issues at levels and in terms that its varied audiences can understand,” and goes on to observe that “a major strength of the report is the recognition of and close attention to the coupling of e-book content with its corresponding software (including intellectual property and digital rights management restrictions) and the hardware/platform envelope.”

While Preserving eBooks will be well received by libraries, scholars and publishers, the report also includes generic lessons in this field of interest for the wider digital preservation community, covering relevant legal, economic and service issues.

You can read Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey’s report Preserving eBooks by downloading it from the DPC website here.

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