National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


Dutch national digital preservation survey summary published in English

The Netherlands Coalition for Digital Preservation published an English summary of its 1 July 02009 report, A Future for Our Digital Memory: Permanent Access to Information in the Netherlands: Interim Report. You can also read the full Dutch report.


Science historians and digital curators grapple with digital data deluge

On August 28, 02009 the Wall Street Journal (online edition) published an article by Robert Lee Hotz titled "A Data Deluge Swamps Science Historians." Here are some notes I made of a printout of this article:

Dr. Jeremy Leighton John is the first curator of eManuscripts at the British Library and has assembled his own museum of dead media in order to access obsolete digital data storage media. At the time of the Wall Street Journal article, he was also on the tail end of a research program at the British Library called Digital Lives.

Update for February 21, 02011: I searched the British Library Web pages (10,000+) for "eManuscripts" and only came up with 4 hits. I'm not sure what this means, but it is rather surprising to me.

Digital curator Sayeed Choudhoury at Johns Hopkins University is "principal investigator for a national consortium of data preservationists called the Data Conservancy." (hyperlink added)

Update for February 21, 02011:
On the News and Events page of the Data Conservancy site, the only news between the awarding of a huge ($20 million!) grant in October 2009 for the Data Conservancy's work and today were a link to this online article "Rethinking scientific data management" (October 27, 02010,, two video interviews of a student and a professor, an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education "A Digital Library Guru Discusses New Rules on Sharing Scientific Data" (January 28, 02011) and a February 14, 02011 report of an award to professor Christine L. Borgman for her academic research -- no mention, however, in the report of the Data Conservancy. She was also the professor whose video interview is among the news and events. So where has the $20 million gone over the past 18 months or so. On the Objectives page, the answer is given:

The first 18 months of DC were focused on prototyping, which have created the foundation for full-fledged preservation, improved conduct of science, and developed greater insights into current science and frameworks for new forms of science. In the next three years, DC will:

* Augment the open and flexible architecture for data curation and data synthesis.
* Extend the current data model or define new data models.
* Develop additional pilots and proofs of concept.
* Research the full problem space of CI development and cross-disciplinary science.
* Strengthen connection points between DC socio-technical research and infrastructure.
* Create a DC operational environment that provides data management support.
* Build capacity through continued community engagement of various stakeholders.
* Expand upon initial sustainability planning through case studies and further market analysis.

The University of New Mexico has a data-preservation network it calls DataONE. It also received a $20 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the same amount it gave the Data Conservancy. Ironically or not, DataOne Director William (Bill) Michener is quoted as saying "We lose an awful lot of data that is collected with public funds."

Update for February 21, 02011: According to its first-year report (August 23, 02010), DataONE appears to have accomplished a lot more than the Data Conservancy.

The article concludes with mentions of Japanese researchers who early in 02009 revealed a "memory chip designed to last for centuries" and California research physicists who in April 02009 "published the design of of a digital device that could store data for a billion years, at least in theory."

Update for February 21, 02011: Here's an article from SEED Magazine about the billion-year data storage device.


Inventing the digital dark ages one encryption key at a time

Computer scientists at the University of Washington, according to this New York Times story, "New Technology to Make Digital Data Self-Destruct" (02009 07 20), have invented a method for letting digital data destroy itself. The article by John Markoff mentions "unexplored legal issues surrounding the use of their technology. For example, certain laws require that corporations archive e-mails and make them accessible." No kidding.

The system from the University of Washington is called Vanish. Perfect name.

Library à la Carte, a free content management system for libraries

Oregon State University's free content management system for libraries, Library à la Carte, looks like a real winner. System and technical requirements are

* Ruby
* MySQL Database
* Apache HTTP Server
* RMagick Graphics Interface
* ReCaptcha Key
* Recaptcha Gem
* Google API Key

You can read about the development of the software by OSU staff and alumni through various papers and presentations.

Library à la Carte was the first program track presented by OCLC Research in its free Technical Advances for Innovation in Cultural Heritage Institutions (TAI CHI) Webinar series that began on August 26, 02009.


United States National Archives goes Web 2.0 bigtime

The United States National Archives and Records Administration, NARA for short, has gone Web 2.0 bigtime: a new blog NARAtions was launched in August 02009 and they are also accessible through YouTube, Flickr and Facebook, the last with two facets: events and news, and research and genealogy.

You'll find more details about their Web 2.0 and social media outreach work at

Source: Archives and Archivists mailing list, 02009 08 17


New Zealand launches digital continuity action plan

The government of New Zealand launched its digital continuity action plan on August 6, 02009. According to the announcement, "the Digital Continuity Action Plan was the first government-mandated public sector approach to digital continuity anywhere in the world. While other countries had separate initiatives – none had developed a unified public sector approach." Archives New Zealand is the lead agency.


My new blog, The Doomsday Blog

I've been thinking about all the hype around the end of the world that's scheduled for December 21, 2012. Now if the ancient Mayans had somehow synchronized their timekeeping efforts with the Western world's calendar and had the world ending on December 20, 2012 (get it, 20122012 as some people might express the date), I might have been a believer, but then again, maybe all the big disasters are happening on December 20 and the world officially ends on December 21, 2012.

So I've decided it's a great time for me to start a new blog, The Doomsday Blog, that gives my point of view and yours on the ways and days till the world ends through both scientific evidence and fictional creations. To help put this in perspective, I'm not insensitive to real-world disasters and have supported various Canadian Red Cross relief efforts. where my new blog is hosted has a widget that links to SocialVibe. I've set up a widget badge to support the American Red Cross in its disaster relief efforts. I hope you'll consider making a donation if you're in the United States.