Posts Tagged ‘dark archive’

inbetweenThe current DLib article on DataStaR meshes with something we’re thinking about at my workplace. My topic is In Between Repositories (IBRs), where data bits may live, waiting, either forever or on their way to becoming something else. Granted DataStaR, and much IR work generally, emanates from scholarly need, need to share living work in stages, let work evolve groupwise; but really it’s all about beginning to use an IR as a memory stick. A little.

We’re embarking on a trial of an intentionally dark archive–a part of our institutional digital repository, up till now only for materials publicly described, that will take things fresh off the truck, electronic material (disks, CDs, DVDs, floppies…) we may not have appraised yet that needs someplace to live other than in a literal box. Accessioned, but not cataloged. Just dashed off into a form we know will be there when we, or they of the future, get to it.  We’ll park electronic files of potentially unknown content in this corner of the repository until we have time to sort them (and the rest of their associated collections) out. A dumping ground with a preservation angle. (Though I’m not entirely sure what the repository manager has agreed to. Migration?) Brings to mind the preservation track of IRs that we’ve been considering in school. It figures that shades of grey would begin to emerge in the business of digital holdings; once storage is cheap enough…no reason not to.

But a little concern about just starting technologically, which, even as I speak, we are, without really gaming this out. In a sense it’s no different than my usual practice of leaving the disks in place next to the folders in a Paige box that goes to remote storage…as long as we know where to find the preserved unwashed digital bits. But it’s kind of like the difference between the physical envelopes of mail piling up and your inbox filling with megs and megs…you might just toss everything out in either case, but in my opinion you’re more likely to empty the inbox without examination than to toss all the paper without a glance. Intentional dark e-storage isn’t quite preservation and it isn’t access. It is sure to be more expensive than storage in a very stable dry, cool box; we’ll be outsourcing conversion of things we can’t even read, no floppy drives for miles around, sometimes without knowing a thing about the contents. And we don’t yet have a plan for metadatification of the dark content.

I’m not arguing in favor of dry, cool boxes for everything…just musing before embarking. I will need to bring up some points and try to seem credible beyond my actual place in the foodchain.

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