NDSA:Broadening and Networking the Field of Research in Digital Preservation

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Insights Interview Blog Post Series Charter

One Sentence Description

As part of the Innovation Working Group’s mandate to spur innovation, this project will develop a plan to bring individuals outside of the organizations and specialties currently participating in the NDSA, but whose work may be relevant to digital preservation, into conversation with the field.

Point of Contact

To get involved in this work, contact Trevor Owens at trow@loc.gov

Statement of the Problem and Goals for Addressing the Problem

Innovation requires an influx of new ideas and experience. Digital Preservation is a field that touches a number of industries and can be expanded by the work of related fields including but are not limited to, digital archeology/forensics, virtualization of programming environments, material sciences, and humanities computing. This team's work is expected to include hosting a set of interviews, dialogs, or talks which could be shared on a blog, as a webinar series, or through some other communications platform. Insights in digital stewardship is an attempt by the Innovation Working Group of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) to engage with individuals working on projects or in areas that preservation and discovery and access of digital materials. In this project, we are engaging in interactions over email which are then posted for the community to comment on and discuss. The goal of these conversations is to generate innovative ideas for NDSA members and engage new communities in conversations about digital preservation and stewardship.

Completed Interviews

  1. Exhibiting Video Games: An interview with Smithsonian’s Georgina Goodlander interview about the technical details of this exhibition of born digital art.
  2. Sharing, Theft, and Creativity: deviantART’s Share Wars and How an Online Arts Community Thinks About Their Work Interview about online ethnographic research exploring how artists think about their rights to copy and share their work.
  3. Digital Strategy Catches up With the Present: An Interview with Smithsonian’s Michael Edson discussion of how digital strategy should work for cultural heritage organizations.
  4. Telling Tales: Joe Lambert from the Center for Digital Storytelling discussion of various projects at the Center for Digital Storytelling.
  5. Life-Saving: The National Software Reference Library Doug White, of NSRL interview about this collection.
  6. Open Source Software and Digital Preservation: An Interview with Bram van der Werf of the Open Planets Foundation well received interview about open source software development for digital preservation.
  7. Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums with Wikipedia (GLAM-Wiki): Insights Interview with Lori Phillips Interview about how cultural heritage organizations are partnering with Wikipedia.
  8. Sheer Preservation – FamilySearch and Preserving the Heritage of Mankind some background on infrastructure behind FamilySearch.
  9. Insights Interview with Beverly Emmons, Lighting Design Preservation Innovator discussion of this increasingly digital component of contemporary theater.
  10. Crowdsourcing the Civil War: Insights Interview with Nicole Saylor This interview explores the development of a crowdsourcing transcription project at the University of Iowa.
  11. Brett Bobley of the Office for Digital Humanities at the NEH This interview explores relationships between the digging into data grants and digital stewardship.
  12. Toward a Library of Virtual Machines: Insights interview with Vasanth Bala and Mahadev Satyanarayanan This interview focuses on a project to create a virtual library of software for emulation.
  13. Interview with David Rosenthal This interview explores perspectives on software development and problems in digital preservation.

Strategic Value of Activity

Publishing these interviews encourages and shares innovative methods of digital preservation practices and technologies and helps inspire new developments.

Required Resources

Time of working group members


1. Individual or Action Team determines who to ask to be interviewed.
2. Interview requested and accepted.
3. Questions refined or developed for that interview -- can be done by individual or with the Action Team.
4. Questions emailed to interviewee for responses.
5. Responses edited into an interview blog post.
6. Edited interview sent to interviewee for review.
7. Final version published on blog.

Dissemination of Knowledge

The Signal Digital Preservation Blog: http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/

Signifiers of Success and Outcomes


  • The action team will communicate over email and report their work on the wiki page at:


  • The action team will also report on their work to members of the Innovation Working Group through periodic group phone calls.
  • Completed interviews published at www.digitalpreservation.gov

Outcomes: NDSA starts talking about and posting about the interviews. The interviews feed innovative approaches to digital preservation challenges.

Interview Process and Materials


Text: The Innovation Working group will conduct interviews/conversations over email, a wiki, or Google docs and then share the resulting text interviews through some manner of blog or wiki where they will invite conversation from the broader NDSA community. It might be ideal for the Action Team to get the format and process for this down enough that any NDSA member could use them to play host to an interview/conversation and then the Innovation Working Group would put it in the queue.

Fields and Projects

  • Digital records in medicine. Of particular interest, medical imaging
  • Crowdsourcing projects, for example metadata games, Google image labeler, zooniverse. @home projects
  • Open access publishing, for example Public Library of Science
  • Data visualization and UI designers interested in cultural heritage projects.
  • Data mining approaches and tools for scholars, example Voyeur Tools
  • digital archeology/forensics,
  • virtualization of programming environments
    • Goals:
      1. Understand management of copies of data spaces.
      2. Learn how virtual machines are configured (operating metadata).
  • material sciences
  • Astronomy
  • Video gaming
  • Scientific fields that particularly rely on “big data” (e.g., climate modeling)
  • U.S. Census.
    • Goals:
      1. Understand best practices about keeping track of many records that have metadata and data.
      2. What digital preservation method(s) are being used?
  • Statistics and Mathematical modeling (e.g, sports statistics, economic modeling)

Introductory Email

Hello, [name],

We're writing to you as part of a group called the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), convened by the Library of Congress. It is a collaborative effort among government agencies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and businesses to preserve a distributed national digital collection for the benefit of present and future generations.

The NDSA has a specific Innovation Working Group formed to investigate innovative practice in digital preservation, and part of this working group's mandate is to reach out to companies and individuals to ask about their digital preservation practices and ideas, in the hope that this survey might inform the challenge as a whole. We'd like to present our survey findings in a report about current practice in Digital Preservation, and your voice is an important part of that.

We're writing to you today to see if you would be willing to be interviewed for a blog series which broadly explores innovation in digital preservation. If so, thank you! You can simply respond to this email and we will send you a short set of questions to respond to for the post.

We'll look forward to hearing from you! And please, feel free to get back to us with any questions about this.


For more information on the NDSA and Innovation Working Groups, please visit: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/ndsa/ http://www.loc.gov/extranet/wiki/osi/ndiip/ndsa/index.php?title=Innovation_Working_Group

Guiding Questions

I had a tough time working up questions that could be general enough to work across all of the diverse fields we have discussed. While this set of questions is very general I would hope that it could serve as the basis to start a conversation which would then involve an additional set of questions that focus in on the particular relevant issues in a given context.

  • Can you briefly describe or characterize the field you are working in or the kinds of projects you work on?
  • What are the most pressing challenges or hardest problems to solve in this work?
  • What do you think is the thing about your field that most outsiders find the most interesting or useful?
  • How do people in your field communicate with each other? With people outside your area of interest?
  • Does your field deal with digital content (datasets, digital objects, text, audio, video, etc), and how?
  • What kind of implications does your project or field have for preservation, access and discovery of digital objects?
  • What do you think are the most important things we can learn from your field?
  • What do you think your field might contribute to other fields?
  • Do you think the challenges and problems in your field will be different in 5 years or 10 years? In the next generation?
  • Can you describe innovation in your field and how it happens?
  • Based on your work and field what kinds of work would you like to see the digital preservation and stewardship community take on?
  • Can you suggest other people who are doing interesting or innovative work that you think might be of interest to the digital preservation community?