21 July 2009

Web archiving and data management

Web archives need to become a seamless part of the experience of using the web; they are the web's corporate memory. This thought encapsulated much of the spirit of a conference that I attended on 21 July on the enduring web, an event organised by JISC, the Digital Preservation Coalition and the UK Web Archiving Consortium.

The conference was a well illustrated overview of the challenges facing the development of a usable and resilient infrastructure for ensuring the perenniality of web content. Quite a task actually, and I was particularly interested in the arguments relating to what material to select in the first place for archiving and preservation. Of course, decisions about what to keep and what to discard have long been everyday stuff for archivists, but when applied to the dynamic, restless and often ephemeral nature of web content, the challenge is particularly acute. Since much web activity is about illustrating work in progress and preserving discourse, to what extent should archiving be documenting the authorial and editing processes?

I was struck by how much such issues resemble those relating to data management. A number of questions facing data archivists should also be familiar to data creators and managers: questions relating to selection, as mentioned above, but also to the curation of material which constantly changes as it is enriched and reformulated; which always stands the risk of being lost forever because it is not properly looked after; and which is not always properly recognised as a scholarly output. Interestingly, the analogy with data management was not made at the meeting, which was attended essentially by librarians and archivists (I had to leave early; perhaps the issue was raised at the end of the day). Could web archivists and data managers learn from each other? Are they actually talking to each other?

20 July 2009

Special Workshops at Repository Fringe 2009

Two special workshops for repository managers and others interested in data curation are to take place during Beyond the Repository Fringe,
30-31 July, University of Edinburgh.

Please sign up in advance through the event registration form (URL below). No fee is required.

1) DISC-UK DataShare Workshop
Data Requirements and Digital Repositories, 2-5pm, Thursday, 30 July.

This workshop will be based upon the DISC-UK DataShare project's Policy-making for Research Data in Repositories: A Guide. The guide is intended to be used as a decision making and planning tool for institutions with digital repositories in existence or in development that are considering adding research datasets to their digital collections. It also can help articulate the benefits of sound data management practices as well as the goals of data sharing and long term access.
Contact: robin.rice@ed.ac.uk.

2) Digital Curation Centre Associates Network Workshop Digital Curation 101 'Lite' 10am - 1pm, Friday 31 July

Research Councils and funding bodies are increasingly requiring evidence of adequate and appropriate provisions for data management and curation in new grant funding applications. This half-day workshop delivered by the Digital Curation Centre is aimed at researchers and those who support researchers and want to learn more about how to develop sound data management and curation plans. The workshop will provide a brief introduction to digital curation, the range of activities and roles that should be considered when planning and implementing new projects, and an overview of tools that can assist with curation activities.
Contact: info@dcc.ac.uk

For further information about the two workshops see http://wiki.repositoryfringe.org/index.php/The_Sessions#Special_Events

Contributions are still welcome for the event. Register at http://beyondtherepositoryfringe.eventbrite.com/

Beyond the Repository Fringe 2009

Place: Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh
Date: 30th/31st July 2009
Home page: http://www.repositoryfringe.org
Wiki: http://wiki.repositoryfringe.org/
Email: rf09@ed.ac.uk
Hashtag: #RF09

Sponsored by JISC, the Beyond the Repository Fringe 2009 event will be hosted by the University of Edinburgh with support from the Digital Curation Centre, the School of Informatics, EDINA, and Information Services, as well as UKOLN and EPrints.

Keynote speakers are Ben O'Steen & Sally Rumsey, and Clifford Lynch.