PERSIST discusses strategies of digital preservation

On October 13 PERSIST organized the session Evaluation and Strategies of Digital Preservation & UNESCO’s Role in facing the Technical Challenges during the 2nd Annual Conference of the International Council on Archives (ICA). The report of this session has now been published.

PERSIST’s Technology Task Force discussed the advantages and disadvantages of different ways of preserving digital information. On the one hand migration, when files are regularly transformed so that new software and hardware can render the information it contains. On the other hand virtualization, when the original bit stream remains intact, but the old software and hardware is virtually recreated. Both strategies have advantages and disadvantages, and therefore both have their roles to play in creating digital sustainability. You need migration, because virtualization alone would make it impossible to do ‘new’ things (like data mining) with ‘old data’. On the other hand, migration alone is not sufficient either, because every migration will imply a certain amount of data loss, and as migration has to be undertaken indefinitely, you will end up with something which is in some of its aspects very far removed from the original.

Moreover, interoperability testing was presented and acknowledged to be an important means to enhance the level of control that heritage institutions need to have for data curation. For all these strategies, the existence of a global repository for heritage software would be an important asset.

Digital information is difficult to preserve over longer periods of time. Carriers like hard disks have a short life span, and even if one manages to keep the bits and bytes, the risk that current hard- and software is unable to process the old data is very real. Archives, museums and libraries are acutely aware of these problems, yet they cannot find solutions on their own. The UNESCO PERSIST Project stimulates the debate between these institutions, government and the ICT-industry in order to promote digital sustainability. In its first phase PERSIST was coordinated by the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO.

Meer berichten