December 2010

Digital Forensics and Cultural Heritage

Ever since a Digital Lives seminar at the British Library earlier this year previewed some of the work, I’ve been looking forward to the publication of this CLIR report on digital forensics and the cultural heritage.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has now published the report, Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Richard Ovenden, and Gabriela Redwine.

Digital forensics was once specialised to fields of law enforcement, computer security, and national defence, but because most records today are born digital, libraries, archives, and other collecting institutions increasingly receive computer storage media-and sometimes entire computers-as part of their acquisition of “papers.” Staff at these institutions face challenges such as accessing and preserving legacy formats, recovering data, ensuring authenticity, and maintaining trust. The methods and tools that forensics experts have developed can be useful in meeting these challenges. For example, the same forensics software that indexes a criminal suspect’s hard drive allows the archivist to prepare a comprehensive manifest of the electronic files a donor has turned over for accession.

The report introduces the field of digital forensics in the cultural heritage sector and explores some points of convergence between the interests of those charged with collecting and maintaining born-digital cultural heritage materials and those charged with collecting and maintaining legal evidence.

Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections is now available electronically at Print copies will be available in January for ordering through CLIR’s Web site, for $25 per copy plus shipping and handling.

I’ve downloaded the electronic edition but have yet to read it (that’s part of  my Xmas reading sorted) but if the seminar is anything to go by it will be a great contribution to the emerging field on personal digital collections and the curation of digital heritage.

New User Guide Released for Keeping Research Data Safe

I am pleased to announce the release of a new User Guide from the Keeping Research Data Safe (KRDS) project on the costs and benefits of digital preservation of research data. This is the second and final work of synthesis from the project. The User Guide is available for download as a PDF from here.

The KRDS User Guide has been developed to support easier assimilation of the combined work of the KRDS1 and KRDS2 projects by those wishing to implement the tools or key findings.

KRDS is a cost framework that can be used to develop and apply local cost models for research data management and long-term preservation. In addition, it includes a Benefits Taxonomy and discussion of benefits which provides a valuable starting point and framework for assessing the impact and benefits of research data management and preservation activities. Finally, KRDS has been a significant research project establishing many key “rules of thumb” for digital preservation costs and approaches to sustaining digital research data. Even those who do not wish to or cannot allocate the resources to develop local models based on KRDS are likely to benefit from its key findings and exemplars, covered in later sections of the Guide.

The Use Guide consists of 39 A4 pages with 15 illustrations (many created specifically for this Guide) and covers the following major areas:

The KRDS Costs Framework;

A Brief “How To” Guide For Life-Cycle Cost Analysis;

KRDS Benefits Analysis;

KRDS Case Studies, Costs Survey, and Factsheet;

Future Development of KRDS.

We hope the User Guide will be of value to the digital preservation and research data communities. In addition to the User Guide we have created the new KRDS webpage which provides a single point of access for the key outputs of both the KRDS1 and KRDS2 projects (including the two recent works of synthesis the KRDS User Guide and the KRDS Factsheet).

The Keeping Research Data Safe studies have been conducted by a partnership of the following institutions: Charles Beagrie Ltd, OCLC Research, the UK Data Archive, the Archaeology Data Service, the University of London Computer Centre, and the universities of Cambridge, King’s College London, Oxford and Southampton. The creation of the Guide has been funded by the JISC Managing Research Data Programme.

We welcome feedback from users of the Guide which will help enhance and update future editions.