Collaborate with the digital preservation community

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The digital preservation community is small and under resourced. This means we have to work together if we want to make a real impact. We're now seeing the emergence of a host of exciting crowd sourced or collaborative projects. Please help yourself and the rest of the community by contributing to these initiatives:

Contribute to the Atlas of Digital Damages

Visual examples of digital preservation challenges, such as graphic corruption, can be incredibly useful in communicating the digital preservation message. Barbara Sierman blogged convincingly about the need for a collection of such images. Contributing to this Flickr group is a really easy way to get involved in DP community initiatives. Follow the Atlas on Twitter here @atlasofdd. Also see the story focused Atlas of Digital Damages site from Barbara Sierman.

Join the discussion

Discussion forums and active blogs provide the opportunity to share informal advice, get recommendations and discuss the finer points of digital preservation. By sharing both your intentions for digital preservation work and your results, you can ensure your work benefits from a wealth of community experience.

Starting a new piece of work or have a specific challenge to take on? Share your thoughts and get the views of the community on the OPF site before you go any further.

Contribute to the Digital Preservation Wikipedia Project

The Wikipedia pages on digital preservation could be so much better. Join a new concerted effort led by NDSA to put this right! Sign up and and start off by checking out the WikiProject page.

Contribute to a file format initiative

Everyone knows we need a decent file format registry to support digital preservation activities. But so far most of our registries are pretty empty. Three new initiatives provide a cross section of opportunities for involvement: CRISP, Just solve the file format problem and UDFR. If you'd like to know more, Andy Jackson expertly describes how these projects relate to each other.

Write up your digital preservation needs, and get them solved

Do you have an unsolved digital preservation challenge? Would you like someone to solve it for you? The Open Planets Foundation wiki captures information about specific Datasets or digital collections. These link to concrete digital preservation challenges or Issues. Once those Issues have been solved, they are written up as Solutions. Capturing the requirements of preservation practitioners enables developers to target their precious resources more effectively. Sharing our experiences in solving preservation Issues allows others to learn from the successes (and less successful approaches).

Contribute a new research challenge

Some problems in this field require new tools or approaches that can be developed now. Others require research and experimentation before they can be realised as practical solutions. Enable Computer Science researchers (and other disciplines) to target your research challenge by making a contribution to the DP Research Challenges Wiki. 

Describe a useful digital preservation tool

Finding toolsets that automate your digital preservation processes and solve your challenges is not easy. Tool registries provide a way of browsing for useful solutions and learning from experiences others have had in applying them. The COPTR tool registry captures information about tools on an easy to edit wiki.

Share or create digital object samples

Improving our digital preservation toolsets requires careful testing and evaluation of their performance. Sample data enables tool developers to easily try out their tools, discover bugs, and hone their tools ready for others to use. A test corpus can contain real digital objects from a collection, or be created specifically for exhibiting certain characteristics for testing purposes. Real data, particularly with examples of broken, badly formed or corrupted files can be particularly useful. For example, see this JP2k test corpus.

Share sample digital objects for a test corpus. Contribute to the OPF Format Corpus on Gitub or contribute to the OPF Format Corpus via Google drive, with a guide here on how to contribute or contact OPF for help on how to get involved.

Analyse, share your data, evaluate and improve

In order to improve our digital preservation capability, we need to be able to analyse and evaluate our work in an effective manner. For example, we need to be able to compare and contrast tools and approaches, and we need to see how changes over time affect performance. Practising what we preach in this field means sharing our data about digital preservation. Dave Tarrant explains why this is a good idea.

Improve file format identification

Identifying file formats is the bread and butter of digital preservation characterisation and assessment. Identification tool coverage and accuracy could be much better, and this primarily comes down to the signatures used to identify each format.

Enhance deep file characterisation

Deep file characterisation enables validation, identification of preservation risks and extraction of metadata. In developing a new characterisation capability, begin with thorough research to identify existing code to re-use or build on, develop a focused command line tool, then consider turning it into a JHOVE2 module.

Develop a new file characterisation capability and turn it into a JHOVE2 module.

All images sourced from the Noun Project, including: Question image by Henry Ryder, Swiss Army Knife image by Olivier Guin, Add folder image by Sergio Calcara, People image by T. Weber, Cross hairs image by __Lo._ and chain image by Adam Whitcroft.

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