My esteemed colleague of many years, Priscilla Caplan, offers a perspective on the past decade of digital preservation in a recently published editorial in Library Hi Tech. Priscilla is among our community's most able leaders, unafraid of the future and eager to help create it. She has a depth of knowledge on the subject of digital preservation far deeper than my own, and shares the perspective of that experience in this editorial.
Part of her theme is familiar to me from my own efforts on the international infrastructure and standardization circuit. She alludes to the relative strength in Europe of centralized support for infrastructure development and broad-based training for information professionals who become the reservoir of expertise on which our standards float (or fail to).
In the states, by and large, there is greater focus on competitive research grants, a different set of incentives with which our discipline has never been entirely at home.
I can't say which approach is most productive, in spite of struggling with the difference for a long time searching for sustainability models for the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. As it happens, I am currently engaged in thinking about sustainability in connection with the NSF DataNet solicitation. Different domains of digital preservation, but a lot of the same problems, and the National Science Foundation is not lobbing soft pitches here, either.
Reading Priscilla's editorial, I found myself looking for evidence... does the idiom of centralized infrastructure support and aggressive promulgation of training result in more effective curation? It is clear that Priscilla thinks so, and I have no evidence that she is wrong... or right, for that matter. Quite possibly this is because of my own lack of knowledge, but intuition tells me it is probably too early in the digital content era to be very sure of either conclusion. So, in another decade, will we know? What evidence will we bring to bear on the question?
Thanks to my colleague, Brian Lavoie, for bringing this editorial to my attention.
The view from my room with a view, 3800 Aurora Avenue N., Seattle