A proactive approach to digital preservation
"It is unlikely (...) that much material will be preserved by design.Accident is more likely to
provide the mode of preservation as it has in the past."
Seamus Ross, HATII, University of Glasgow (2000: p. 23).
If Seamus Ross' prediction, that accident will remain the most common approach to
preserving our cultural heritage, becomes true, then the risk of cultural heritage resources
being lost or becoming inaccessible will increase dramatically. However, the worst thing to
do is adopting a "sit and wait" attitude. Instead, cultural heritage institutions should actively
approach the preservation issue and try to take as much control as possible.This means to
actively manage the life cycle of digital resources, from data creation and data management
to data use and rights management.
The life cycle approach to long-term preservation takes into account that "many
stakeholders are involved with data resources at different stages, [yet] few have influence
over (or even interest in) those resources throughout their entire life cycle. (...) This means
that decisions which affect the prospects for and the costs involved in data preservation are
distributed across a number of different (and often differently interested) groups." (National
Preservation Office, Feeney, 1999) Long-term digital preservation is a distributed process
where different stakeholders understand their involvement at a particular stage, but have no
or little understanding on how their decisions influence the other stages in the life cycle of
a digital resource.
Because decisions made at the early stages of the life cycle influence any future options
with regards to long-term preservation, cultural heritage institutions should try to take
control or at least influence decisions as early in the life cycle as possible.
Managing the life-cycle of digital resources
ce: Salzburg Resear