This class has been eye opening for me. There are a lot of possible directions that you can take with a preservation plan. One recurring theme in our readings was that digital objects are not defined by everyone in the same way. This came through early in our readings when Owens wrote of digital objects’ “fuzzy boundaries” (p. 6) and “screen essentialism” (p. 46). We went on to discuss what it means to authentically render an object and how this informs preservation intent. Thinking of digital objects in different ways also means that we can open our minds to different types of access in order to observe restrictions based on privacy, copyright and cultural norms (Owens, p. 164).
It’s important then not to start with assumptionsabout what preserving a digital object means. Getting stakeholder input early in the process can help identify what aspects of digital content are of value to preserve. This will help an organization flesh out realistic goals based on their available resources. In working on my class project, I got a lot out of my discussions with my organization, and I think that process of talking it out was helpful for them as well. However, I think my involvement was just the beginning for them since I didn’t speak with anyone within their parent organization and user needs mainly focused on those for staff. Hopefully, my report can be a basis for further discussion.
This leads to my last takeaway. This is an iterative process. Preservation never ends. There may be a lot of things you’d like to accomplish, but think about what you can do that’s sustainable in the long term. At the same time, don’t feel overwhelmed by that commitment. The Levels of Digital Preservation includes recommendations for what to do at a minimum to preserve digital content. You can start small if necessary and have ideas in place to expand when the time is right. Additionally, things will change. Storage media will need to be replaced and formats can become obsolete. Digital media has changed how we think about information and different formats may come along that challenge your current approach.
In the case of my organization, there is so much potential for what they can do with their digital content once they get past the initial effort of consolidating and organizing their content. I suggested conducting an annual review in my preservation policy draft to encourage further reflection.
So here’s a question to ponder about our consultations. Having been through this process, what was one thing you would do differently if you did it over again?