The first full day of Austin PASIG has come to an end and for once I don’t quite know where to begin – or end, for that matter. There is so much to tell, and whereas usually there are some – what shall I say – less inspiring talks that enable me to start reporting to you about the good stuff, I had no such “luck” today. So I will give you some impressions this evening and report in more detail on individual presentations in separate posts in the days to come – probably well into next week 😉 Several speakers are graciously sharing their power point slides with me, so you won’t have to miss anything, just wait a little longer.
So, did Boot Camp (yesterday’s post) deliver? It sure did – unless of course you had expected every answer to be given to every question in the program. (But you are smarter than that, aren’t you?)
The prize for the most succinct summary of the field of digital preservation goes to Tom Cramer of Stanford (and of PASIG). At a truly boot camp-like pace he ran the audience through digital preservation 101 (separate post), concluding on a note that people tend to forget: the real key is a digital (preservation) mindset:
Helen Tibbo of the North Carolina School of Library and Information Sciences gave her recipe for “wrangling the chaos”:
Showing a picture of DCC’s lifecycle model she pointed to the many functions in data management, saying: no one person or institution can do it all. So, find your own niche in what is doable in this process. Bridging the gap between IT and records management people is a key task.
Mark Evans of Tessella taught “us”, memory institutions how to be “good, critical customers”. The very first requirement is … draft sound requirements, and that is not saying “our system must be user friendly” – because such a statement will only provoke more questions, but being precise in what a system must do – in order to be user friendly (separate post).
Don Post of iMerge Consulting struck a pessimistic note, not because of file format problems and the like, but because preservation starts at creation, and that is where so very very much still goes wrong. Just telling people to play by the rules is not going to solve that: we have got to make it easy for them by providing proper tools. Post is co-founder of the Saving the Digital World initiative. Post also talked about reinventing the wheel, concluding that we tend to do that because we do not know that the wheel is out there – but it is probably somewhere in a community we do not regularly work with or talk with. Open knowledge centers must help address this, and Saving the Digital World is working on that.
Raymond Clarke of Oracle covered cloud computing and the many shapes it takes. His assertion was that cloud computing is maturing, that many of the present-day issues with regard to security, ILM, availability, monitoring, governance, sustainability and enterprise management, are in fact being addressed and will be solved (more on the cloud later).
A very impressive and visionary presentation came from Michael Petersen of SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association). To him, trusted digital repositories and cloud computing are only steps on the way, early steps, that is. Because of our “physical” thinking in terms of repositories and platforms, we have a propensity to get lost in the weeds.
Our end goal, according to Petersen, must be to make information truly portable, no longer depending on digital repositories (now matter how trusted they are) or any type of special platform. By making information platform-independent we will solve all issues of migration and emulation. And if we are to do this, we will need all the creative power of commercial industry. Both the information and the services must become totally virtual rather than physical. Peterson talked in terms of “self-healing” systems – systems that can repair glitches in their data. Now there is something to dream about!
However, Chris Wood told the audience, no matter how virtual the services become, “The bits have to live somewhere.” He went on to give a fascinating insight into the world of storage R&D, predicting that amazing change is coming. Moving from perhaps a million to a trillion objects, we run into serious storage problems. “You just cannot back up a trillion files.” This presentation got quite technical for a non-techie like me, but the conclusion was clear: we need much higher density storage media that use less power, and the file systems must be self-correcting and self-protecting. The good news? They will come! The bad news: it may take industry a while. Wood asserted that much of what we need is actually possible, but because demand is too low, the market is not developing fully.
There’s more … but that will have to wait, because tomorrow we have another full day. Time to get some sleep …
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