Saturday, 11 October 2008

iPres'08 and DCC Digital Curation 101 Course

In the last couple of weeks I have attended the iPres 2008 conference at the British Library and theDCC Digital Curation 101 course at NeSC. Both events have been great to learn more about latest developments, tools and concepts on digital preservation and data curation.

iPres 2008 has been widely commented in other blogs such as the DCC's and Neil Beagrie's. I particularly liked the keynotes from both days.  Lynne Brintley ,CEO British Library, highlighted the increasing maturity of the digital preservation field,  called for join up of pieces of the big jigsaw and for a different label like 

digital life or preservation for long-term access. The second day's keynote brought Dr Horst Forster, from the European Commission, who  argued that “less than 20% of UK organizations have preservation as per legal requirements and 50% still print the documents to preserve them” and ensured that the European Commission will continue to fund activities in this area.

Some of the tools that called my attention included JHOVE 2 and PRONOM. The former helps to identify, validate and characterize digital objects whilst the latter is a format registry. The Danish Data Archive DANS presented their Data Seal of Approval, a collection of guidelines for producing data future-proof.  It was also of interest to see some presentations touching on issues around collaboration between advanced computational science and digital preservation services (see: Data Center for Library of Congress Digital Holdings and The Chronopolis Digital Preservation Archive and Demonstration). 

The DCC Digital Curation 101 course combined an excellent set of lectures and hands-on exercises provided 

by leading experts. The sessions were structured using the stages of the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model: 

  • conceptualize, 
  • create&receive, 
  • appraise&select, 
  • ingest&store, 
  • preserve, 
  • access&reuse.  

During the four days the course lasted, the lectures covered the previous stages pointing out the issues present and highlighting the importance of early (in the lifecycle) collaboration between researchers, information professionals and IT specialists. The hand-on sessions allowed us to:
  • use some sample data sets to identify their significant properties, 
  • practice using the Data Audit Framework, 
  • look at data quality issues and assessed file format robustness,  
  • find and use data from the British Atmospheric Data Centre, 
  • create a detailed data management plan putting in practice everything learnt during the course.
The course was brilliantly organized and delivered. There was the perfect mixed of researchers, information professionals and IT specialists. Perhaps in the future the course could focus on specific disciplines but I really hope there will be more. 

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