The Atlas of Digital Damages

One of our 'dead'!
Last week I attended a Digital Preservation Coalition day of action on collaborative approaches to digital archiving (and file format identification in particular) jokingly subtitled 'Bring out your Dead'.

Our current work has certainly uncovered some digital media and files that could be described as 'dead' and though I didn't really have cause to bring them out on the day, one of the key things that was reinforced by many of the speakers on the day was the importance of collaboration.

Digital archiving is complex and evolving field and we can not hope to solve all of the problems we are faced with alone. Although sometimes we may struggle to find the time to actively engage with collaboration initiatives, the importance of making time to do so was highlighted and at the end of the workshop we were asked to commit to at least one of the collaborative initiatives neatly summarised on the OPF wiki page Support your digital preservation community.

Only a small step I know, but I decided that something we could easily contribute to was the Atlas of Digital Damages. This is a group on Flickr with a remit to collect "visual examples of digital preservation challenges, failed renderings, encoding damage, corrupt data...". These images all tell a story and visually highlight and describe preservation issues that many of us will face. I hope to use some of these images to illustrate future presentations.

So, I have re-registered with Flickr (it has been a long time!) and uploaded my first picture (see above). It is that easy! I feel the compact disc photographed represents a very real digital preservation challenge! I was relieved to be told today that we do hold the data on this corrupt CD (burnt less than 6 years ago) elsewhere in the office, so in this case at least, the level of digital damage is minimal.

Jenny Mitcham, Digital Archivist


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