Roughly annual iPRES news and opinions from the Digital Preservation Coalition’s Head of Research and Practice, Paul Wheatley. Opinions are the opinions of Paul and those featured. Not the DPC. They’re just opinions, ok?

So it was iPRES2016 and quite a sizeable proportion of the DP community descended on the beautiful Swiss capital of Bern. It was a top conference! High quality all the way through and a great audience to interact with. It’s taken me this long to recover, so finally, here’s a whistle stop review with some pointers to more information in case there’s something you’d like to dig into into in a little more detail….

Robert E Khan‘s keynote was something of a sea change for this kind of event, getting into some really meaty preservation topics. I much prefer something like this to one of those ladedah “inspirational” bits. Or as I put it on the day:

There seemed to be quite a lot of work from the preservation community that Bob wasn’t aware of (somewhat Vint like in the delivery perhaps?) but he touched on a lot of interesting topics and got the conference off to a great start

The DPC was present in full force, including our DPC Scholars(TM). A new initiative where we provide funding to early career digital preservationalistas to attend conferences like iPRES. Really proud of the DPC to be doing this kind of thing, even if it involves me loitering around at the back looking a bit weird:

And even better, our scholars blogged some of the best bits of the conference. In particular, I really enjoyed the panel discussion on software sustainability. It was great to hear a *positive* take on a subject that can often get bogged down in dead end discussions on IPR:

In particular I was struck by a couple of really interesting points. Firstly, that by working with deltas of emulator images, a ‘standard’ setup could be augmented for particular preservation cases. Furthermore this could be shared in an open manner, and constructed collaboratively. Really quite simple, but potentially very powerful:

And secondly that the Persist Project seems to be making headway in licensing discussions with the big vendors. This would of course be great, as we don’t have much chance ‘on our own’:

The results of the E-ARK Project got a lot of attention at the conference, and deservedly so, In particular the developments around the revamp of SIARD and the associated database preservation toolkit:


A whole morning was devoted to the preservation of digital art (and emulation), first with a keynote from Sabine Himmelsbach and then a series of presentations. Excellent commentary here from Simon Whibley at the BL who has been working with some of the emulation technologies featured:

The panel session on OAIS was also of note, not least of which for taping in the audience so they couldn’t escape:

Of course it all got deep pretty quickly:

And words, predictably, weren’t felt sufficient to describe our FEELINGS:

That was a few of my highlights, but what was iPRES2016 *really* all about? For me, there seemed to be quite a lot of reflection at iPRES2016. Not just on how to solve digital preservation, but on how we *did* solve preservation, and did we actually get it right/expend appropriate effort/use the best strategy/etc. Seeing this reflection and evaluation focused on genuine experience of working with data suggests a real step forward in maturity for this community. The presentation from Peter McKinney was a great example of this:

After exhausting us with 3 days of presentations and chat, we then went into a day and a half of workshops, which I (and those I talked to who were elsewhere) thought were excellent. In particular, the “OSS4Pres 2.0: Building Bridges and Filling Gaps” was very productive and there should be some results available soon. Obviously, watch this space…

I’ve barely scratched the surface, so if you still want more…

…and also from Rachel:

So for even more further reading you can download the proceedings in one huge lumpy PDF file here. I wonder how much more traction this stuff would get if it was done properly?

It’s almost time to wrap up, so what else happened at iPRES? Well there were memes…

…Improbable stories about massive bitstreams that got away…

…There was lego, everyone’s favourite visualisation tool…

…And of course funky programmatically generated visualisations that were too small and complex for anyone to comprehend. Oh look, that’s me  in the middle. I of course prefer to see myself as hanging around on the left (field) somewhere:

And of course it was a lot of fun:

Hang on, I forgot to mention the chocolate….



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