background image
Hans Hofman wondered how the archivists were
coping with this change of culture.
Paul Fiander said they had to be able to work with
journalists and programme makers.They did not
simply write new rules for the creators, though. `You
have to work with them.You have to be immersed
with them if you want them to change.'
Netherlands' archivist Annemieke de Jong saw how
archives could aid the integration of asset manage-
ment systems in an organisation. `In the BBC model,
you could see that programme makers and journalists
use the same procedures, structures and metadata for
copyright that is being developed in the archiving
world. So, it is not just the system.You should make
the rules in the archive and then distribute them to
the creators and producers.'
This would function working directly with the
creators, she said, but she wanted to know: `If you
want to preserve material that is being produced
outside of your organisational model how do you
maintain this form of control?'
The consensus was that market pressure could have
a positive effect although systems vendors were often
Persistent Object Preservation
`Question: How are the government's electronic records going to be
preserved over multiple generations of technology so that future archivists
and historians can access them? Answer: Nobody knows yet.
But Kenneth Thibodeau, director of the National Archives and
Records Administration's Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program
in College Park, Md. thinks he's on the trail of a solution. It's called
persistent object preservation'.
`State it simply
In the persistent object method, the structure of a record and of
aggregates of records is described in plain language--simple tags and
schemas--so that any future technologies, and people, will recognize
the essential properties of the record and be able to access it, he said.
That gives managers the ability to change hardware and software over
time with no significant impact on the records that are being managed
and preserved.
"What San Diego is telling us is that records in this format should be
good for 300 to 400 years,"Thibodeau said.'
From: ,For the record, NARA techie aims to preserve`, by Richard
W.Walker. In: GCN magazine, July 30, 2001;
For a description of NARA's Electronic Records Archives Program
see Thibodeau, Kenneth (2001): Building the Archives of the Future:
Advances in Preserving Electronic Records at the National Archives
and Records Administration. In: D-Lib Magazine, No. 2,Vol. 7,
February 2001,
DigiCULT 17
hard to influence.The Forum discussed technological
solutions, migration, emulation and `persistent object
, a process being researched by Dr
Thibodeau's NARA project at University of
California' San Diego Supercomputing Centre.
Delegates were dubious about system emulation
(`It remains an ethical question,' said Professor
Duranti) and migration (`You are entirely controlled
by the software industry,' said Dr Thibodeau).
`So there is no technology actually that can really
deal with what we require, is that the conclusion at
this moment?' asked Moderator Hofman. `Shouldn't
we then move in earlier in the creation process in
order to influence the way things are created for
example open source, creating standards, etc.'That
was the way the BBC had done it and not just for
the archives.
Dr Brübach was all for telling the software indus-
try `Hey, folks. Build in an interface which we can
use to export stuff to one of our archiving formats.
Make the process as easy as possible with metadata
collected clandestinely so the user does not even
know what is happening in the background'. Others
were doubtful if the industry would comply but
agreed that archivists could achieve some success
Summing up, Hans Hofman told the Forum:
`The aspects we have been discussing are mainly the
requirements.We have also the technological issues
because technology is the reason why we are now
suddenly facing all these issues around authenticity in
preserving digital objects.There are cultural aspects
as well. How do we convince people that they have
to have a different attitude towards what they are
creating and preserving?'
`But what I also hear is that there are different
communities and may be different perceptions in
authenticity although there still might be a more
generic idea of authenticity.This may lead to different
solutions because the requirements are not always the
San Diego Supercomputer
Center: Collection Based
Persistent Archives,