'What's New' Issue 43: March 2012

Magdalena Getler | 14 March 2012

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and Digital Curation Centre (DCC) are delighted to announce a new issue of our joint newsletter ‘What’s New’.

In the March issue:

WHAT'S ON: Forthcoming events from March 2012 onwards

WHAT'S NEW: New reports and initiatives since the last issue

WHAT'S WHAT: In the Beginning Was the Word, Wiliam Kilbride, DPC

I've been thinking about data storage quite a lot recently and the difference between storage and understanding.

It's not one of my usual topics but I’ve learned quite a lot since the start of the year. It started at the PASIG conference in January and it's been focussed in particular by having to develop a presentation for later in March on the broad topic of 'preservation and the cloud'.

PASIG - which incidentally seems to have avoided turning into the corporate rally that some had feared - is an unusual forum which unites digital preservation and the data storage industry. It's a proper intellectual ‘mash-up’ of policy wonks, collections managers and engineers. I am sure that the SNIA types would have been bored by the reprise of the paramagnetic effect and the difficulty – apparent impossibility - of the prefect 1:1 atom to bit ratio. But it's new to me and I loved it. I heard about storage technologies that could soak up 10,000 separate tapes and hundreds of petabytes (I had to look up what a petabyte is), I heard about the economies of tape versus flash, and I heard about all the massivest highest performance computing of all time. It’s reassuring to know how big everything is in the Great State of Texas.

A highlight for me was a brief presentation by Gary Francis of Oracle who placed these most recent discussions of tape versus disk storage on a longer term trajectory of computing facilities. There’s been a lot of change since the 1951 invention of the Remington Univac tape, and the 1956 IBM RAMAC disk – but perhaps the biggest surprise is that the same debate over tape versus disk continues 60 years later.

I’m sure that some of my library and archive colleagues would have wanted me to stick my hand up and point out that magnetic media, optical media, flash media and atom-level storage are part of a trajectory that started with the invention of the printing press ... Read more

WHO'S WHO: Sixty second interview with Patricia Sleeman and Ed Pinsent, ULCC

Where do you work and what's your job title?

We work at the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC), part of the University of London. As to our job title, we’re both Senior Digital Archives Specialists, and we manage a range of related projects.

Tell us a bit about your organisation

The University of London was founded by Royal Charter on 28 November 1836 and is the third oldest university in England. ULCC was founded in 1968, and was the first supercomputer facility established in London for the purpose of scientific and educational research by all of the colleges of the University of London. It currently provides central IT and Web services to the University and its Schools, as well as offering e-learning services and a state-of-the-art data centre to a wide range of customers. ULCC’s Digital Archives team was established in 1997 and has contributed to a large number of digital preservation activities in the last 15 years. We currently offer digital preservation training and consultancy, and institutional repository services for many of the University’s institutions.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Ed: For the UK Parliament, I'm just completing a report on the feasibility of digitising a large collection of papers which they would like to put online. It was nice for me personally to get back to appraising physical papers and books on shelves, which I haven't done for a long time.

I've just finished a JISC-funded project called Future-Proofing (http://11kitbid.jiscinvolve.org/wp/): working with the records manager at UoL, we trialled various open source tools for normalising file formats. It was a very straightforward approach, which is why it appealed to me.

I'm also involved with Web archiving initiatives: I manage the JISC’s accessioning to the UK Web Archive, and also advise an EU-funded blog archiving project (which involves most of our team) called BlogForever (http://blogforever.eu/). It is developing a system for harvesting and preserving blog content. I'm helping to develop the preservation policy; Patricia is developing case studies to test the system.

Patricia: I am currently working on the JISC-funded SHARD project, part of the JISC Digital Preservation programme. We are developing both face-to-face and online training tools for preservation of research data.

I also manage the Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP) (www.dptp.org), which Ed and I deliver. Originally a JISC project, we continue to run this popular course, with the DPC’s support. We constantly adjust the course to reflect the new developments we encounter in our projects. Next course is in May!

I also work on the House of Books, an EU project with an NGO called Un Ponte Per...(a bridge towards) and UNESCO. It is looking at capacity building for the Iraq National Library and Archives (INLA) and other Middle Eastern libraries, in relation to digitisation and digital preservation. I contributed to various workshops in Jordan, Iraq and Italy working with groups and have found it a very satisfying and challenging experience.

I have also just begun work for the Enhancing Linnean Online project, working with ULCC’s repository specialists to enhance the Linnean Online collection ... Read more

FEATURED PROJECT: SPRUCE, Bo Middleton, Leeds University Library

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