Others said it yesterday at iPRES2012, and Christoph Becker of TU Wien and the SCAPE project reiterated it on Friday: much of preservation and preservation planning is about knowledge. Nobody can predict the future, but as a community we can get a lot better at harnessing all the knowledge that is out there, experiences from colleagues, successes and failures, emerging trends, etc. All that knowledge can help us weigh alternatives and make informed decisions about our collections. We call it preservation watch, and the SCAPE project is doing promising work to make that easier. Full paper available here.- by Inge Angevaare
Any process to design a preservation plan basically looks something like this (click images to enlarge).
At every stage of this process we need information from the outside world. What is happening out there? What alternatives do we have? Typical questions can be:
The answers are not easy to find, as they are scattered all over the place:
The SCAPE project has set out on the ambitious road of bringing the information from all these sources together and providing an automated monitoring service:
The word “automated” is crucial here, because the tool’s forerunner, the PLANETS PLATO tool, required too much manual work to be usable at any scale. The whole purpose of the SCAPE project is to make the PLANETS tools scalable, which inevitably involves automation. These are the goals of SCOUT, the monitoring service:
Item 6 is a very interesting feature of the tool: automatic alerts when something happens in the world that affects your collections. It is the stuff most digital archives are dreaming about!
Personally, I am impressed by this work, but I also think that it is very ambitious. So I asked Becker if this was going to be the umptieth project to do a lot of work on setting something up, only to drop everything when funding runs out. Becker is counting on the Open Planets Foundation to support the tool after the project is finished. That will certainly help. But Becker agreed that much – if not everything – depends on involvement from the community to actually supply all the information needed. On the face of it, it would be worth our while, because wouldn’t we all want this:
(Did you notice the word quickly at bullet no. 5?)
In the iPRES2012 audience, not everybody was immediately convinced. Peter Doorn of DANS Data Archive would really like to see some applications of the service before deciding on its suitability for his data archive DANS. Perla Innocenti of HATII asked how flexible the tool would be. Becker promised that SCAPE is targeting its tools at real users, so they have to be practical. Let’s hope that SCAPE will deliver on that!
PS: the conference may be over, but my coverage will continue for another week or so. I have plenty of notes & pictures, but it will take a little time to process all of the information. Stay tuned.