PERSIST Selection Guidelines discussed at ‘Digital Heritage 2015’

Digital Heritage, an annual international conference for societies, organizations, and events around ICT for heritage, was organised this year in Granada, Spain. The PERSIST Content Task Force participated with the workshop Demand driven selection for long term preservation of born digital cultural heritage that took place on September 29. It was moderated by Clément Oury, one of the writers of the PERSIST Selection Guidelines and by Marco de Niet form the PERSIST Steering Committee.

Questions

Particpants to the workshops asked pertinent questions about the Guidelines: are they not too generic to be useful? Is collection building in musuems really comparable with selection by libraries and archives? And, very interesting, isn't the ‘place’ of selection changing in the digital environment? Is it not more upfront, starting already when digital objects are created? Or further on in the life cycle of heritage, when professionals and the public jointly should evaluate what use has been made of large undefined sets of archived digital resources.

Ethics

Also, the ethical dimensions of the word ‘value’ where stressed, bringing up the question of possible non-ethical selection by heritage institutions. This is a thorny issue, and so is the use that companies make of big data collections in order to trace the digital behaviour of individual users.

More details about these issues can be found in the report of the session. All participants in the session are warmly thanked for their interest. Their input will enrich the further work of the Content Task Force.

Support for PERSIST

It may be noted here as well that PERSIST was mentioned quite prominently in the keynote to the conference by Guy Berthiaume, Director of the Library and Archives (LAC) of Canada. He stated that PERSIST is a very important initiative and that the LAC supports the project wholeheartedly.

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.

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