Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

I am mortified to find that I only posted three times in 2010. I'd like to be able to say that it was for some glorious reason, but, to be honest, I just haven't made time. I've tweeted (and re-tweeted) quite a bit. I went out on the road and spoke at a number of conferences. I had one article come out that I wrote in 2009. But in 2010, I just didn't make much time to write.

I could make a public resolution, but that's risky...since the proof of failure or success would be right here. So no resolution.

There were a number of topics that caught my attention this year.

Twitter donated their archive to the Library of Congress this year. It has been startling to me just how much public outcry there was. It's not unlike a journal -- a very public journal, aggregated from millions of people. Given the Library's collections of personal papers and man-on-the-street collections, Twitter seems perfectly in keeping with the Library's other analog and digitial collections. And, the Library archives web sites. In one sense, archiving Twitter is archiving another part of the web.

I got more involved in web archiving this year. I've been involved in web archiving before - I started up an initiative to archive course web sites in 2000. It's been gratifying to become involved again, and see how much has been saved and will be saved. Not just at institutions like the Library of Congress or other national libraries or research universities (check out the institutions that are part of the IIPC), but through personal, volunteer efforts. I'm looking at you, Archive Team.

Archives are acquiring increasing numbers of born-digital collections. I've been thrilled to see the increased interest in the use of digital forensics tools in the appraisal and processing and accessing of such collections. But there are challenges. Archives are looking at vintage media, which often requires vintage hardware and software. The collection at the Library's Package Campus is something to behold, but I shudder at what it will take to keep the equipment operational. To understand some of the challenges, a couple of key reports came out this year, on Preserving Virtual Worlds and Digital Forensics in Cultural Heritage.

In that same vein, I've always been interested in computing history. I am going to resolve to return to reading more on that subject.

I've been thinking a lot about documenting computing history in aid of digital preservation. There are multiple initiatives to document and verify file formats. There is at least one initiative to document carrier media. There are archives of manuals and media. 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 our storage architecture meeting this year.

I've been thinking a lot about standards this year. That comes from working with an initiative to collect content from the wild, as published. How do we collect things as they are, but minimize the grief required to deal with variety when ingesting them into a managed environment? That I wish I had a great answer for. But that's what 2011 will in part be about.

I almost forgot about personal digital archiving! We started an initiative at the Library in 2010, with Personal Archiving Day and a Personal Digital Archiving booth at the National Book Festival. I loved working at both events. There's a lot more to be done about public awareness and promoting best practices.