Because good research needs good data

10 years of the Digital Curation Centre - a series of reflections

Kevin Ashley | 10 November 2014

We have a birthday to celebrate, and we're going to be marking it with a series of special blog posts.

Anniversaries are in the news in the UK and elsewhere at present. Some are very precise - tomorrow's 2 minutes of silence takes place precisely 96 years after the signing of the armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that ended the First World War which began 100 years ago. Some are less precise - the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago took place over a number of days and the commemoration of that event in Berlin this weekend has similarly been spread across a number of days.

One anniversary is much less momentous but much closer to home for us - the tenth anniversary of the DCC. It's one of those anniversaries whose precise timing is difficult. Some might say that it should have been celebrated back in March, 10 years after the funding was first awarded to a consortium led by the University of Edinburgh and involving STFC, HATII at the University of Glasgow and UKOLN. Some might go back further to the decision by JISC and the e-science core programme to create such an organisation and the announcement of a competition for funding. Instead, we've chosen 10 years since the formal launch of the DCC, which took place in the National E-Science Centre in Edinburgh on November 5th 2004. I was there for that event, at the time as an interested consumer of the DCC's outputs and a possible collaborator. A small number of the staff from that time are still with us; many others have moved on. Similarly, there are some constants in our mission, particularly the focus on ensuring the long-term usability of data of all sorts that are used and produced in research. There have also been some changes; a narrower focus from funders and hence less involvement in more general issues of digital preservation, for example. There have also been significant changes in the maturity of the field and the challenges facing us.
Commercial providers now exist for general and specialist repository and preservation services. The general understanding of the value of curation, and the commercial and societal value of reuse of digital material, has greatly increased. We're going to be looking at some of these changes, and at the possibilities for the next 10 years, at our 10th conference in February 2015 (registration is now open, by the way!) But I've also approached a number of those who have been involved with the DCC over those 10 years to produce a series of blog posts between now and next year on their personal views of how the field has changed. If you would like to join with your own contribution, please do get in touch with me: whether you are a past staff member, a speaker at a conference or someone who has engaged with us or our outputs in some other way. I'm looking forward to reading what the pioneers have to say; I hope it will be interesting for you as well.