Our 2011 partners meeting concluded yesterday. The theme was “Make it Work: Improvisations on the Stewardship of Digital Information,” and all the various pieces seemed to come together nicely in this, our sixth year of partners meetings.
Truth be told, there was anxiety floating around the office as we planned the meeting. Figurative–and sometimes literal–white knuckles are common when putting together any big meeting, but this year we had the extra adrenaline charge of our new initiative: the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.
NDSA is a mechanism for NDIIPP to add new partners. Over 80 institutions of all kinds have joined so far, and our aim is to bring in many more from the ranks of libraries, archives, museums, government agencies, businesses and other entities interested in enduring access to digital information. This effort significantly expands the number and scope of meeting participants–a wonderful thing, of course, but also something that ratchets up the pressure on us to inform and engage all of the 215 people who came.
O’Reilly stressed the preservation role of people working outside of institutions. He called for “baking in” more preservation functionality into tools used to create and distribute digital content to enable a more distributed stewardship mindset. This is important because “the things that turn out to be historic are not thought to be historic at the time.” O’Reilly also said one of the most tweetable bits at the meeting: “Digital preservation won’t be just the concern of specialists, it will be the concern of everyone.”
Yancy Strickler talked about how Kickstarter.com supports crowdsourced funding for artists, designers, filmmakers and other creative projects. He stressed the critical importance of a compelling story to support donations and create a sense of personal connection with the project. Strickler said that libraries, archives and museums could easily develop a meaningful story and he encouraged them to consider a crowdsourcing funding model.
Michael Edson asked participants “to go boldly into the present,” since “five years ago we knew stuff about digital strategy that we still haven’t actualized,” and “the future we’re supposed to be planning for is already here.” He also called for developing a cultural heritage institutional infrastructure of “on-ramps and loading docks” that could support the flow and preservation of digital content.
Aaron Presnall talked about digital information tools for informing public decision-making. In this context, he quoted James Knight on the role of newspapers: “to inform and enlighten so that the people may know their true interests.” He also discussed the importance of families in developing and managing digital collections, and warned that there may be “succession disputes” over inherited content, which could have a major negative impact on preservation of highly significant content.
The first day concluded with a display of over 30 separate posters on various aspects of digital stewardship.
Day two of the conference began with presentations by Helen Hockx-Yu on web archiving; Tricia Cruse on curation approaches; Jack Brighton on preserving public broadcasting; and Ben Vershbow on digital research and development in a cultural heritage setting. Other presentations came from MacKenzie Smith on the Simile Project; Sharon Leon on Omeka; and Michele Kimpton on Duraspace.
Most of the second day consisted of a series of workshops, which are summarized in an earlier post, Workshops: Dragons, Crypts, Challenges, Awards and Interns.
The final day of the conference included a presentation by Martha Anderson of NDIIPP, who highlighted program achievements of the past year. Anderson also talked about the growth of the NDSA and mentioned the addition of many new members. Presentations followed by David Rosenthal on cloud storage; Cal Lee and Bob Horton on the NDIIPP states projects; and Peter Krogh on the dpbestflow.org project.
The meeting concluded with a reprise of the 2010 Digital Preservation Award pitches. Pitchers included Michael Nelson on Memento (the award winner); Fran Berman on the Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, and Kari Kraus on Preserving Virtual Worlds.
All this activity, including ample opportunity for informal networking and socializing, made for a rich and invigorating three days. And now, with our collective anxiety lessened, we are processing everything we learned. A good bit of this relates to pursuing new opportunities for collaboration as well as extending our existing relationships.