Talking Amongst Ourselves

By Rachel Frick posted

This week I had the opportunity to participate in the second meeting of Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation (ANADPII).  For background on this initiative, I recommend reading the volume that came out of the first meeting, especially the closing thoughts by Cliff Lynch that start on page 309. An update on the full ANADPII will take place at the CNI fall meeting.

This year’s meeting focused on current and emerging action items in community practice, and identified areas of global alignment: legal, organizational, standards, technical aspects, economic factors, and education.

It was a good meeting, with vibrant conversations and many takeaways. Two especially resonated with me.  First, we often focus too much on the challenges and obstacles to digital preservation, and not on the opportunities and good work we have accomplished. Work in digital preservation is fraught with tough issues, but we need to acknowledge them and move on, resisting the temptation to commiserate and instead use our precious face-to-face time to conspire. For the most part, we do and have, but we still spend too much time examining the problems as opposed to working through them.

The second takeaway was that we—the general library digital preservation community—do a great job of talking amongst ourselves. We need to break out of our conversational silo. There was a great turnout for ANADP II but it was many of the same faces I see at other digital preservation meetings.

In the last panel session of the meeting I, as the moderator, challenged participants by asking them how they were going to spread the word of ANADP to other communities. How are we going to share and push out the message? Who is going to write a blog post about the meeting? Who is going to use and publicize the tools we learned about, such as the COPTR tools registry? Who is going to sign up for a working group in the Research Data Alliance (RDA)? How can we better deploy and reuse existing data preservation curriculum resources, such as the ones developed by IDCC and DPOE?

When building new tools or services, we often say that we need to use and be present in the environments, spaces, and platforms that our community uses. In a networked world, we cannot expect to be a hub: instead, we should aim to be present in the connections in between.  The same should be said for our conversations/conferences. So, how do we move our conversations about digital preservation into the communities we serve? There are strategies being deployed, like RDA, and work being done, as exemplified by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.

What are you doing, personally, to move your work in this important area? How do you move from bystander, to participant, to pro; or, in linked data-speak, how do you be “of the web” and not just “on” it? As for me, I plan to participate by submitting a poster, or planning a lightning round or BoF session in a meeting next year that is not of my tribe, perhaps at the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union.

The second commitment to busting the conversational silos is to share more broadly the work we do at the DLF in this area, such as with the Post Doctoral Fellowship Program in Data Curation and planned follow-on programming for those who participated in the Durspace/ DLF/ ARL E-Science institute.

Finally, I would like to expand the DLF Cross Pollinator activities beyond our collaboration with ER&L. Recently we sponsored a hackday at the Association of Moving Image Archivists meeting, with the goal of bringing together content specialists and developers. It was a success, thanks to organizers Lauren Sorenson, Steven Villereal, and Kara Van Malssen. We had great participation, generated some amazing ideas, and had working code—see for yourself. But the best part is that we made a bridge from the DLF—a community rich with technical expertise—to AMIA. It is a bridge that we hope to strengthen over time with more collaboration. 

For 2014, I would like to start building a bridge with another community. I would love to hear your suggestions, but would be even more interested in knowing who is interested and willing to lead the conversation, like Lauren, Steve, and Kara did with our work with AMIA.

Who’s in?