I came to NDIIPP expecting to hear that institutions and the public weren’t prioritizing digital preservation, and that the next wave of librarians would need to shout from the rooftops to raise awareness that digital objects are facing mass obsolescence. I expected a clear, clean outline of the steps we can take to make digital preservation a priority. What I learned, however, paints a much more complex picture.
The overall consensus of the staff at NDIIPP is that both the public and professionals working in cultural heritage and government institutions actually do know that digital preservation is important and even essential, but they aren’t always sure of the best ways of approaching the problem and achieving success in their preservation activities. Nearly every digital object is important to someone, but there isn’t always an awareness of the object’s short lifespan. Users often need to understand more deeply how digital objects age or how there may be a need to access the item in the future.
In yesterday’s post, I discussed how my initial ideas about digital preservation changed during my visit with NDIIPP. Today, I consider what I learned about building a socio-technical cyberinfrastructure.
In an ever-changing digital landscape, with limited budgets and resources, up against a variety of difficult-to-solve challenges, preservationists must learn to work smarter, not harder. The term cyberinfrastructure is often used to describe the type of infrastructure that will be needed in order to share and manage data on a very large scale. The idea of a cyberinfrastructure is one that includes a network of both technology and people, but often the conversation leans more heavily on the raw infrastructure, tools, and standards still needed to create the system. While the raw infrastructure is an essential piece of the puzzle, it shouldn’t be the entire picture.