December 10: expert meeting Project Generic Workflows Born Digital Heritage

Blog post
As part of the project Generic Workflows Born Digital Heritage, Gaby Wijers (LIMA) and Hannah Bosma (Eye Film Institute) investigate the needs and wishes for preservation of born digital heritage, and the (im)possibilities of joining the evolving national digital infrastructure, in a research led by Robert Gillesse (Foundation DEN). The research focuses on the situation in The Netherlands in the areas of film, photography, architecture and media art. The research is commissioned by the Cultural Coalition for Digital Preservation.
To map the needs, wishes and best practices in the fields of digital art, film, photography and architecture, we have investigated sources and had interviews with specialists from national organisations and museums, producers and artists. The starting point of these interviews was a questionnaire with questions about the domain, the sustainable management and conservation of born digital heritage, collaboration/outsourcing and best practices.
In most heritage institutions and other cultural organisations, the shift towards the integration of born digital heritage in a digital workflow for durability has not yet been made. Existing knowledge has not yet been implemented in the practice of the workplace. Institutions that were forerunners in the analogue field, often still have a lot of work to do in the digital field. Each domain and each type of institution has other problems with the management and preservation of born digital heritage, but there are also common problems: people struggling with huge files, heaps of files, rapidly changing formats, impermanence of the required hardware, lack of standard archiving formats disorder supplied digital archives, weak coordination between digital file and context, or lack of information, and more.
A conservation policy for born digital heritage has hardly been formulated. There is a lack of expertise on digital archiving. This is particularly true for complex, dynamic and interactive works, for example apps and websites. There is a lack of technical knowledge and subsequent ICT for the archive and the collection.
There is also a large gap in collections when it comes to born digital heritage. In some institutions, the acquisition of born digital heritage has started, in others only occasionally. Early born digital heritage is often not acquired at all. Some digital manifestations (eg. CD-ROMs and websites) are entirely or almost not collected. This creates a "hole" in the Dutch cultural history as represented in institutions.
Awareness, sharing of knowledge and attention to training is in this light most urgent.
To provide our findings with a broader base, and to sharpen them, an expert meeting has been organised on Wednesday, December 10, in the following topics will be addressed:
  • Sharing knowledge. How come the cultural organisations the necessary knowledge about management and preservation of born digital heritage in their field? Different cultural organizations need a knowledge network and / or knowledge. Which organizations can take on the role of knowledge and in what way? What form might get a knowledge network? What knowledge and networks are already active in this field? How is it that existing knowledge organizations not (properly) achieved?
  • The source as basis. Knowledge between archives / collections and creators (artists, producers) is vital. Management and preservation of digital heritage begins with the production. Archives like the makers like early instruct example file, organization of the digital material and accompanying information (metadata). Alternatively, the creators have knowledge about the latest developments is essential for the archives. Does it make sense to draw up guidelines for creators? Makers need to have facilities in the field of digital preservation, such as an e-filing? How to stay in touch with the creators and cultural organisations to keep abreast of the latest developments?
  • Joint infrastructure. How can the cultural sector benefit from the public investment in the national digital infrastructure? What are the specific demands by cultural institutions for an e-depot? What needs an e-depot to provide to be useful for cultural organisations? How does this e-depot needs to be organised (central, networked, by material type, by discipline)?

The findings will be processed in the final report that will be presented in March 2015 at the NCDD conference.
Robert Gillesse: