Tuesday 9 December 2008

IDCC4 afternoon research paper session

I really want to write about the afternoon research papers at the International Digital Curation Conference, but I start from a great disadvantage. First, I wanted to hear papers in BOTH the parallel sessions, so I ended up dashing between the two (and of course, getting lost)! Then my battery went flat, so no notes, and I left the laptop in the first lecture room while going off to the second… and of course, near the end of that paper, someone came in saying a couple of laptops had been stolen. Panic, mine was OK, thank goodness (when did I last do a proper backup? Ahem!).

I’ve reported on the Australian ARCHER and ANDS topics before; the papers were a little different, but the same theme. The paper I really wanted to hear was Jim Frew on Relay-Supporting Archives. Frew’s co-author was Greg Janee; both visited the DCC, Frew for a year and Janee for a few days, talking about the National Geospatial Data Archive. I thought this was a great paper, but I kept thinking “I’m sure I said that”. Well, maybe I did, but maybe I got the ideas from one or other of them! They have a refreshingly realistic approach, recognising that archive survivability is a potential problem. So if content is to survive, it needs to be able to move from archive to successor archive, hence the relay. An archive may then have to hand on content that it received from another archive, ie intrinsically unfamiliar content. How’s this for a challenging quote: “Resurrection is more likely than immortality”! He looked at too-large standards (eg METS), and too-small standards (eg OAI-ORE), and ended up with the just-right standard: the NGDA data model (hmmm, I was with him right up till then!).

The conclusion was interesting, though:
"Time for a New AIHT
  • Original was technology neutral
  • New one should test a specific set of candidate interoperability technologies"
The conference closed with an invigorating summing up from Malcolm Atkinson, e-Science Envoy. Slides not available yet; I’ll update when they are. He sent us off with a rousing message: what you do is important, get to it!

See you next year in London?


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