donderdag 8 december 2011

Grabbing digital preservation by the roots - #DISH2011, 3

Day 2 starts out with a plenary keynote by Samuel Jones about the importance of culture for our lives. Interesting and entertaining, no doubt about that, but like yesterday’s keynotes (see earlier post) the viewpoint is rather philosophical, and thus it is difficult to determine what heritage institutions can take home from it in terms of concrete advice as to how to deal with all this on a day-to-day-level.

So, after coffee I am heading for something completely different: a workshop by Karin van der Heiden, a freelance Dutch adviser on matters of digital archiving, especially for graphic designers.

Karin van der Heiden (right) with Job Meihuizen of Premsela.
In cooperation with Premsela, a Dutch archive for designers, she has recently published a brilliantly clear brochure entitled ‘Save as …’ giving graphic designers some really basic and helpful advice about how to organize their information and archives (see post in Dutch). A really good initiative, because we all know that choices well made at the production stage can really help keeping the stuff usable over longer periods of time. Focussing on production gets to the problem of digital preservation at the root. There is a Dutch-language version and an English-language version. The website is still only in Dutch, but I have been told that a US edition with website is forthcoming from AIGA, the US professional association for design.

On Twitter, Karin advertised her workshop as ‘digital archiving for dummies’. Perhaps there were a lot of archivists who thought 'that is not for me', because there were only a handful of attendees. But Karin's intention was not to train the archivists, but to train the archivists to train the producers - to train them to get away from complex terminology like OAIS and TRAC, and to enable them to explain to their producers what to do, at the level of explaining to your father what he should do if he wants to be able to look at his grandchild's pictures in 10 or 20 years.

If you think that this is perhaps too basic a level, just remember this: more and more digital content is being produced outside the sphere of influence of heritage institutions. Can you see the boxes of junk coming your way in 10 or 20 years' time and the troubles and expense they will cause? Educating everybody is therefore important to all of us. Karin's mission is to make basic preservation measures doable, enable designers, artists, researchers and everybody else to easily integrate basic measures into their workflow:

Great stuff. I'll let you know when the US edition becomes available.

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