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Digital Forensics and Digital Preservation

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Vintage Equipment at the LOC Packard Campus
Vintage Equipment at the LOC Packard Campus

Libraries, archives, and museums are acquiring increasing numbers of born-digital collections. I’ve been interested to see the increased use of digital forensics tools in the appraisal and processing and accessing of such collections. But there are challenges.

Some of the software tools come from the realm of legal forensics, where chain of custody and recovery of maliciously destroyed or intentionally deleted files are among the key goals.  Some of the software introduces new technical concepts – what are Disk images? Or checksums?

Archives are looking at vintage media, which often requires vintage hardware and software, or specialized hardware.  What’s a FRED? And what could a Catweasel possibly be?   Libraries are setting up forensics labs to deal with these new collections (Stanford, the Bodleian, among others).  The collections at the Library’s Packard Campus or at the Computer History Museum are something to behold, but I shudder at what it will take to keep the equipment operational.

There is definitely a need to document computing history in aid of digital preservation. There are multiple initiatives to document and verify file formats (Sustainability of Digital FormatsGDFR, UDFR, JHOVE2, PRONOM, DROID). There is at least one initiative to document carrier media (MediaPedia). There are archives of manuals (University of Minnesota Charles Babbage Institute). I am thinking a lot about what other sorts of documentation are needed – operating systems, application software, hardware of all types… I heard these challenges subtly woven through many presentations and discussions at the Library’s 2010 storage architecture meeting.  To understand some of the challenges, I recommend two recent key reports:  Preserving Virtual Worlds and Digital Forensics in Cultural Heritage.

Comments (7)

  1. About ten years ago I wrote a book about Amtrak’s Acela Express trains. It was completely digital, beginning with Microsoft Word 2.0 as I recall. Over the years since then, I have “translated” it into newer forms of Word, including the most current, Word 2010.
    Now, my book is being published (ISBN 978-1-59073-024-9) by Carstens Publications in New Jersey.
    My editor, Chris Lane, also got about a dozen digital photos. The were shot in a digital camera (Nikon Coolpix) but I had to increase the values to 300 dpi.
    Many more photos were film, and he is scanning the usable ones to digital format.
    I’m adding my e-mail address below in case anyone wants to ask questions.
    Leo King
    [email protected]

  2. Would it be possible to change the feed title to read LOC Signal Blog? This would differentiate the blog posts from all the other frequent LOC messages on events and programs that are sent out. I cannot distinguish between the blog emails and the LOC emails from the title on the email.

    This might help many bloggers and others who receive mountains of emails each day.

    with best wishes
    Schelly Talalay Dardashti
    Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog

    • Thanks for the suggestion! We will pass it on to our web services team.

  3. If there is identity theft attack or phishing attack. What information can I gather about this attack using network forensics.

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