Five Things You Need to Know to be a Better Digital Preservationist

tags: digital history, digital preservation



Victoria Torres is an intern for HNN and a student at the University of California, Berkeley.

William Thomas, the Chair of the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Leslie Johnston, the acting director of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library of Congress, have some tips regarding how digital history projects can be preserved and maintained for the future so as to prevent technological obsolescence.

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#1 DO make formal agreements and MuO's (Memorandum of Understanding)

Projects that are useful and cared for are preserved longer. If digital historians work with and establish a memorandum of understanding (mutual agreement between two or more parties that expresses the will of both parties to take a common line of action) with libraries, centers, and other ongoing initiatives, those institutions can make a key difference in it the scholarship's longer term preservation.

#2 DO get scholarly associations and journals to review, index, and record the digital scholarship that is produced.

This is important because, while the object might not be sustained or available at some point, the reference to its existence would still exist. According to William Thomas, this is an issue that digital humanists need to work on more.

#3 DO consider standards

"The term applies not just to media or to hardware, but to interfaces as well. In preservation, it is the interfaces – the software and operating system mechanisms through which users and tools interact with stored files – that disappear the most quickly. Or change the least to keep up with changing needs."

#4 DO use open source software

If one uses open source software the preservation community has the ability alter the software at anytime. If the content is available to more people interested in whatever the digital scholarship is and can legally be altered, there is a better chance of its long term preservation.

#5 DO realize the preservation of your scholarship is just as importance as the creation of it

While this might seem obvious, Johnston points out that when people are concerned solely with creating their digital work, but not with how to maintain it, the scholarship will likely become unusable if it is not being kept up with. The maintenance of your scholarship is as important as the work that is put into it originally.


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