6 Replies to “Building the “Lean Repository””

  1. Hi Nathan,

    I really like the idea of the lean startup method as it relates to building a digital repository. The constant cycle of creation and feedback is a great way to build a system that is both usable for the creators, but also accessible for the users of the digital archive. I particularly enjoyed the Chudnov article as it doesn’t shy away from the idea that you might make a mistake when picking a digital repository tool. I’ve found in my professional career that it can be really hard for people to backtrack once they have picked certain direction to go in for a project, even if they realize after a while that the direction they are going in isn’t working. Chudnov alludes to the importance of realizing when to cut and run from a platform that just won’t work for your organization, and even before you get to this point, plan on making some mistakes along the way in this process.

    I’ve read over the National Digital Stewardship Alliance’s Levels of Digital Preservation in a few classes and have found this to be an excellent place to start when thinking about how an organization can plan for digital preservation of their content. Like you mentioned, the OAIS model is obviously a great standard, but I find the more conceptual steps outlined in the LoDP as an easier thing to wrap my head around. From reading the LoDP article, I’m excited that the NDSA team working on this is planning on adding definitions of terms used and further resources in the chart to give more clarity for users trying to implement these systems, and putting this all online. As the article says, they want to create the online version so that users can “drill down” on certain areas where an organization might want more clarity. I would find this particularly helpful for file fixity and data integrity levels, as I understand the concepts around creating a hash when ingesting files into a repository, but don’t actually know how to do that.


    1. Thanks, Sarah!

      I agree with you completely about the usefulness of the NDSA LoDP. It’s strength, I think, is in how its modular nature seeks to meet institutions where they are and give them a path to further improvements.

      I am also looking forward to seeing a more interactive version of the Levels online in the future, but I do like how the LoDP project itself seems to be practicing the philosophy it is preaching by publishing its own Minimum Viable Product in the form of a simple and very useable chart that can be iterated on later.

      In the mean time the NDSA has lots of informational resources on their website, such as this glossary of Digital Preservation terms, that an institution looking for more details can reference. http://ndsa.org/glossary/

  2. Wow – I love the phrase “minimum viable preservation”! It’s somewhat (maybe very similar) to the idea of MPLP. Maybe we could consider Chudnov’s approach a digital version of more product, less process?

  3. I have to say that I like this concept as far as a methodology. OAIS is a wonderful model, and for many organizations it should be aspired to. However many of the organizations I have worked for have had extremely limited digital resources, or staff with limited technological skills.

    I remember a small cultural heritage org I worked with for a little while; their subject specialty was niche enough that they were a destination for the community of scholars interested in such things; however despite having Library, Museum, and Archival components, they could not put anything from their library/archive catalog online.

    The reason for this was simply that the person running their library was an 86 year old art historian who had been volunteering for decades. With no library science background and little technical skills her answer had been to create a word document organized in such a way that it could not be updated with printing out a whole new several hundred page copy.

    Despite this, there were several digital projects in the works being completed by students from the local library science school. In theory these projects would lead to adoption of Pastperfect museum software, and projects that could go on their website. Many however did not get done because the work needed was often beyond a single semester’s intern work. Within the limits of their organization I could see how a minimum viable product could possibly lead to more visibility and thus possibly more funding as parent or grant giving organizations see their money being put to good use.

    1. I think you are on to something with your comment about the “lean” methodology resulting in more visible work. Instead of MPLP it’s More Product, More Funding 🙂

      This reminds me of something my Film 1 professor in undergrad once said: “the best way to get funding for your project is to demonstrate that you’ve successfully completed one”. I think that’s true in any field. If you have a functioning repository and access system – no matter how simple – that sends a signal to the folks holding the purse-strings that you are a good investment.

      A potential pitfall of using this methodology is that, to a certain extent, “failure” is baked into the process. You might have to go through the Idea-Build-Feedback loop a few times before you are able to find the right fit for you institution and users, and someone who is not familiar with the methodology could perceive the iterative process as a string of failures. With this in mind, it’s probably a good idea to clearly communicate your strategy to Administration (or whoever controls funding).

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