Thursday, May 31 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
The Physical Nature of Digital & What it Means for Conservation

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In working with digital collections, we are often asked, “What is digital? Where are the collection materials actually held? What does digital collection’s storage look like?” In an increasingly wifi-bluetooth-mobile-data world, digital can seem invisible to us as end users, however the digital world is highly dependent on technology that has material form- physical hardware, network wiring, and often entire buildings of carefully monitored and controlled infrastructure. What does this mean for art conservators? The material science of digital files held in our care is important to consider: how a file is constructed and how it tells us how it needs to be opened, played, or understood. However, equally important is the storage that those files are held on, how they are transferred from one place to another, and how they are handled at each stage of this move. What are the physical aspects that make up the storage environments of digital storage? And which of these aspects are critical for us to understand as conservators? The NDSR Levels of Digital Preservation provide a nice one-sheet listing tiered guidelines for storage, integrity, security, etc. for a digital preservation system, and the OAIS reference model gives us a framework from which to build out our digital preservation storage. But what is digital preservation storage, anyway? Is it specific hardware that is different than other digital storage that we purchase for our personal lives? For the past 10 years, the Library of Congress has been convening an annual “Storage Meeting” to discuss digital storage for collections material among collection holders and storage technologists. And out of the iPres2016 workshop, and now in draft form, is an initiative to create guidelines for collecting organizations on Preservation Storage Criteria. These are a good start to understanding digital preservation storage and may lead us towards a conversation on digital conservation practices When we understand the material nature of the digital world around us and the physical components that make up our digital ecosystem, we can more effectively care for our digital collections through the lens of the conservation field, create policies and assess risks in digital care and handling, and work productively and in partnership with our IT colleagues.

avatar for Crystal Sanchez

Crystal Sanchez

Conservator, Smithsonian Institution
Crystal Sanchez is a media archivist at the Smithsonian Institution on the Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), working with digital collections from across the Smithsonian’s diverse Museums, Archives, Libraries, Research Centers, and the Zoo. She has Masters degrees from New... Read More →
avatar for Lauren Sorensen

Lauren Sorensen

Consultant, Self-employed
Lauren Sorensen is a consultant specializing in digital preservation and conservation, project management, independent media, and artist archives. Concurrently a PhD student in UCLA's Information Studies program, she has held positions at the Library of Congress, Bay Area Video Coalition... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 11:30am - 12:00pm
Texas Ballrooms A-D Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (379)