The following is a guest post by the iPRES2018 Social Media Team. The interview was lead by Michelle Lindlar.
Heritage professionals within the Digital Heritage Network (and beforehand the Netherlands Coalition for Digital Preservation – NCDD) have been actively involved in iPRES for years and are organising next year’s iPRES in Amsterdam.
“iPRES – the International Conference on Digital Preservation – is the premier and longest-running conference series on digital preservation. It brings together scientists, students, researchers, archivist, librarians and other experts to share recent developments, innovative projects and to collaboratively solve problems. With the iPRES 2018 Call for Contributions just having closed, let’s hear what this year’s program co-chairs Courtney Mumma (Texas Digital Library) and Erwin Verbruggen (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) have to say about the conference, ways to contribute and creating an inclusive environment for this year’s iPRES2018, which will be held in Boston/Cambridge, MA, USA September 24-27.
The iPRES conference series is unique as it brings together scientists, students, researchers, archivists, librarians and other experts. What different options of contribution are there? And does the CfP serve the needs of both the scientific community as well as practitioners?
Courtney: This year at MIT and Harvard, we really want to diminish the constructed divisions between theoretical and practical approaches to digital preservation topics. In addition to long and short papers, we offer panel and poster sessions, workshops and tutorials, lightning talks, and this year we have added some sessions focusing on games and the graphical representations we use to illustrate digital preservation topics. I believe that we can grow faster and go further as a community if all of us dedicating time and energy to digital preservation work together. In my own experience, my best iPRES experiences have been when I have intermingled between communities of practice and researcher sessions.
Erwin: At the same time we are committed to keeping iPRES an interesting venue for researchers to present groundbreaking research – by executing peer review, and by working closely together with open science output sharing platforms.
The theme of iPRES2018 is “where art and science meet: the art in science and the science in art”. How will this be reflected in the program? What specific topics are you looking for in contributions?
Erwin: Where art and science meet was a starting point for us to think about how we can promote inclusiveness in all its forms. Digital preservation is a meeting ground. Not just between producers and repository owners, or researchers and practitioners. It’s a challenge for almost every kind of productive work out there – and we wanted to instigate all those voices who have met with problems and solutions to long-term digital safekeeping to make themselves heard. The conference topics therefore ask explicitly for people’s implementation experiences, for example, for lessons learned, and for experiences with collaboration and capacity building.
Courtney: Yes, and if you review our Call for Contributions, you’ll notice that each topic addresses crossover and intermingling of ‘the art’ and ‘the science’. Additionally, it’s no accident that ‘Mapping out sustainable digital preservation approaches and communities’ is the first listed topic area. We want iPRES2018 to interrogate the last dozen or so years’ digital preservation methodologies and developments through a long-term viability lense.
This year’s iPRES is the first to have offered an optional abstract review. What was the motivation behind this and how well was it accepted?
Courtney: With the optional abstract review, we aimed to foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment that encourages the participation of a wide variety of practicing professionals and academics alike. We chose this approach because we hoped that it would help to lower barriers as well as increase iPRES 2018’s diversity and relevancy to newer professionals in the digital preservation community. The Program Committee unanimously agreed that it was time to try a new approach to refresh the iPRES conference.
The online community reacted quite well to the abstract submission opportunity, and Erwin and I were delighted that over 60 submissions opted in to the process. It remains to be seen how the early feedback will change the conference proper, but we’re excited to find out.
It’s great to see that the conference’ Call for Contributions picks up on the need for the digital preservation community to be inclusive. How do you plan to incorporate this into the program? Has this been a consideration when assembling the peer review board?
Erwin: Much like digital preservation itself, inclusivity is never “done” but rather a “1000 small steps”. Even if there’s always more to do, we’re happy to work with a program committee that spans the globe, and have invited a lot of new voices to the peer reviewing team. While a conference’s location always impacts its populace somewhat (and I’m so much looking forward to a peek behind the screens of our wonderful hosting organisations) the organizing team has along every step of the way tried to underline global and other forms of inclusiveness. We will also do our best to make conference outcomes available as much as possible to people who cannot attend.
Courtney: The challenges of digital preservation are insurmountable without diverse voices contributing to solutions and strategies. If we create barriers, with or without intention, we limit valuable perspectives and our ability to be successful and cultural heritage is at risk. The organizers are working very hard to get an enforceable Code of Conduct in place as another of the ‘small steps’ towards an inclusive iPRES2018.
If someone who is reading this is still not sure whether they should submit something to the conference or not – possibly because they fear it might not be relevant enough or because it is “just a work in progress” – what would you tell them?
Courtney: Reach out to any of us on the Program Committee and we’ll do our best to make recommendations about format and content that is likely to add to the success of iPRES2018. Digital preservation, writ large, will always be ‘just a work in progress’ with new challenges every day and new findings that conflict with current and past approaches. Be a part of that work in progress by joining us and sharing your work at iPRES2018!
Note: While the deadline for peer reviewed submissions was April 15th, info on a number of exciting non-peer reviewed submission options like digital preservation games, lightning talks and original digital preservation graphics will be announced in late May!’