Subtitles for Intro to Digital Preservation 3 of 5 - Digital Context and Variability

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I would say bye let art
what archivist tried to deal
with digital documents
electronic records
but have used to try to take you
know the issues
authenticity and integrity and
into the digital era and
a have developed in you know a
number of techniques
for doing this but it I think
success measure success
has primarily yen well
on way the primary focus has
has been to you be able to you
read documents or play documents
the primary focus has been to
use them following
that to make sure that they're
and you know have it there and
changed from my perspective this
also wider issues that could be
looked at
up primary focus your community
that you can type well while
we're at it when I complain
about the museum community
Inc on I think that that
museums have also try to adapt
to the digital age not as
quickly as archives and
up but on by finding methods for
creating digital repositories
doing check sums and other
means of confirming that digital
that their that are migrated to
these repositories are
accurate and represent original
they've found waste
to essentially turn
the creativity that
has erupted in the last you know
several decades from the into
the twenty
century into the 21st into a
a it stored on on hard drives
and and other
and clout base media on and I
largely with this represents is
getting very good
at preserving aspects artifacts
that don't really matter
in other words in the context
the art world having simply a
meaning like a transcription up
the up
overtaxed or having the material
oh I've got this floppy driver
this DVD the artist me
is on important but
a a very small peace the
preservation pie
and what's really missing is the
ability to translate that into
understanding the context
experience so you know the
example of
I'll up well i i I've got my
archived on the artist and I i
put everything on you know USB
stick or a
oren I cloud or something and
now now at my work is gonna be
preserved for posterity
is ridiculous and I I find so
much attention up the
up the community the
preservation community
on file format which file format
should we save
ignores that much larger issue
of how
the context is now no longer
just a social context like for
papyrus or or the Gettysburg
now it's also the context all
the other artifacts have to fit
together to make that work
because I bitstream thats you
know a
you know video file all I need
to know what
codec was to to play it back I
need to know software for the
player any
know what operating system it
ran on it was over the Internet
reconstruct you know it I P
address scheme and browsers and
plugins and its tremendously
complex problem way
well you know it it is essential
but it's not sufficient I guess
right I'm
from my perspective and indict
really criticizing the archival
me or the museum community in
the sense that there's only
limited resources no generation
or so to
address really complex technical
a and I think we've made great
progress technically I do you
did there's there's some broader
issues for example
in the digital world it's very
easy to create what in
communications call
discourse communities new ones
people with people you don't
accept online you
accept online you typically in you list
typically in you know list
serves forms or or
you know hybrid various Internet
melodies you can create these
communities they have their own
discourse and for that matter
every institution probably has
its own rules for two scores
they're not written down and a
when lawyers come in in process
discovery polity email
litigation their
take totally out of context a
in order to you you know make a
case for
something or or the other but
it that's not good enough think
for scholars and
future they need to build know
what it actually met in that
in that community so hit you
have to
somehow preserve their product
context: so this is an example
working outside at this software
envelope so they gave in
to the point okay there's
there's new social context as
that happen to be mediated by
electron exactly
and that I think an area for a
weakness and
I can develop I think you see
that a lot in the game community
right initiatives like
preserving virtual worlds
okay what do we do about
preserving everything from you
know doc economies
original vintage games to world
the work graphics
you know massive multiplayer
online role-playing games
for which up the actual game
code is
is just a scaffolding for this
social interaction that happens
guilds and and conversations
some happen in games happen
outside the game leaderboards
is so many kinda important
that are produced by of players
millions of people around the
that are not captured in any of
the contemporary models for
preservation because they're
just observing them the
the game not the experience yeah
but how you find
machine that's low enough to
play those rich
play and then that that's
another problem right like like
when we say
I think there's just kind of
analogy week you know I make fun
of the people who think that
preservation is pushing the
the you know the crate into the
archives on but I think there's
this digital version
that where people assume well
the club that is just storing
bets on
on a hard drive right and and
then that they consider that
additional material well in I
you'll see in the archival
community library community
it that sorta one several
that that will be utilized as a
Casey other words don't workers
the cezanne
save a bit stream object because
maybe in the future technology
will be there too
better transfer to something
else better
look at it or because you just
don't have the capacity to
to migrated anything else
already anyway
so use it it's free its chain
hoping for the best
future a.m. you know any and I
think that's not an unreasonable
thing to do
in certain circumstances but
it's all good you know it's all
determined by
circumstance what resources you
have to
you know to devote something how
important it is
side I guess in my community
i've seen I'll a little bit of a
shift their
so I think that there was that
and I'm you know again
admittedly critical this
perspective that on
if all save it and then I'll for
let the future
figure out you know what the
context was social and
on to me that serve like you
know to some with a hammer
everything looks like a nail
I've got I've got the ability to
easily to check something store
files and I know how to migrate
those and maybe even I'm using
redundant computers across
multiple networks in
and so on but I don't have an
easy way to say
what is that context what are
the other pieces of software
necessary to reconstruct this
what are things like the timing
that I don't know you know
Wow how fast is this game gonna
emulation which will talk about
later courses really important
additional preservation strategy
but the first emulates had no
control over the timing and so
journal and Yahoo creates early
video games
his fans we created them and
they showed him
this work from you know twenty
years before and said aren't you
we recreated your gaming is like
it's great but it's impossible
to play it runs four thousand
times too fast
Sony being able to say I got the
stuff versus being able to say I
recreate the experience
huge gap there I think
contemporary preservation
certainly in in the world
you know well i'd I think that
you know that's that's obviously
one of the layers
and context has to be addressed
it i thinkI if ever
you know summarize that the
archival community stud
it's developed the technology to
to you
maintain digital records
where I am is
they're not technologies that
are as widely practiced
as they should be in like the
but but they're they're they're
and you know there there usable
and spreading quickly a
and you know they have it the
spent 20 years probably debating
issues migration versus
and and other thanks it people
can access accesses debates for
themselves and
determine what strategies seem
to work work best
for them you know certainly the
technologies their
I'll and I would say the weak
points for the product but it's
how much context we need
to a to indicate something
and you know here with
I I think you also have to be
able to look at
you must have sufficient context
determine the authority of the
person to
do with the are doing in a
to give you an example I could
send out an email
to the lot of people on campus
say you are getting a 50 per
said raise January 15
and it would be an authentic
document and
we preserving enough context
a along with the emails to know
that I have no authority
event 8 state
cuz in the future I wish enid
year but you know it me and the
present everybody knows that I
sis is what I refer to as the or
omitted the 100
metadata about documents yes it
you know we all know certain
things that how r are
place at work operates or school
but people in the future won't
have access to that unless we
records and so we have two
also preserve enough context
that they can
they cannot K and they can
determine for themselves
whether the integrity has
records and then a beyond that I
would say
enough context that they
actually no what
what that document documents met
and in the context in which it
was created
at the social context the
communication called
as well as a technical so I know
you know formats and standards
like fervor allow you
and the library world and
archives to
sir to determine and pinpoint
document or but I I wonder if
you push that idea little
what you're saying about being
able to construct the context
isn't in
artifact maybe little artificial
as a
wrap-around culture because
as a wrap-around culture because
cultures really service
series of events if you will me
I think this become I mean we
can talk about you know okay you
it was Beethoven's fifth
symphony is it something written
you know music staff notati
on you know music staff notation
or is it a series of
the at which the
the performances at which the
actual life forces have
influenced how it's played as
you know to some extent maybe
not as much as the score maybe
on I think we could also look at
in in the world
moving into the digital space
where you can say
anytime someone is new media
they're constantly on releasing
new versions up their software
and every time it is maybe shown
or or or even tested is in
essence a new version so
work called apartment by Manuel
Martin 1 burden
a number of other artists I
documented its
kinda Genesis over 18 months
period and they were
a couple dozen different
versions during that time sure
and and they were just versions
it was shown here and there was
picked up and shown over there
things changed along the way
the technology behind the scenes
change they had to adapt to that
but also their
oldest multi-player mode this
featured in works let's take
that out
and and you know I could say
apartment is
version I mean is document or
artifact but
in in some ways that's a real
shorthand for this mess you're
fetched you know that we're
well of course but on the other
all records Hester fragmentary
and broke happen
and you know you never a record
everything that happened you
don't have
record in every conversation
programmers had when they were
software or you know
maybe it you don't have
maybe do now only have the chats
today's used communicate with
each other
if they would every National
Security Administration
but I'd yes and if you can get
it back up
and all's good that nevertheless
at the records any period
Chi are always incomplete
your your point is well taken
Elgin Marbles ripped outta
persons side shown is that they
were individuals jours
yes Renaissance prevailed that
was originally churches now
plunk down white Cuban you know
you feat seared
them was this is just a fragment
the whole

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The digital age brings daunting challenges for anyone trying to preserve cultural artifacts, which have become entangled in new software and hardware dependencies as well as new social contexts like email and gaming communities. This conversation between librarian Richard Hollinger and curator Jon Ippolito asks whether and how the priorities of archive and museum communities may need to change to reflect our bit-driven society.
This clip is the third in a five-part introduction to the University of Maine's online course DIG 550 (Digital Preservation). Hollinger and Ippolito are faculty in this graduate program, which offers online classes in the acquisition, representation, access, and preservation of digital assets. More at