Product Manager, Stanford Digital Repository
Long-term stewardship of digital information resources is a poorly understood activity relative to its physical information resource analog. Unfortunately, fear of the unknown encourages anxiety, and anxiety encourages dramatic perceptions: presumably, “digital preservation” is much more complex, costly, and/or unpredictable than “traditional preservation.” Yet digital information resources are just a subset of information resources in general, and we have significant experience stewarding information resources over time. Precisely discerning the unique characteristics of digital information resources (from those common to all information resources) helps simplify and demystify approaches for their long-term stewardship—and leads to some potentially surprising recommendations for stewards. For instance, distributing responsibility for and control over resource maintenance may be more effective than centralizing most responsibility and exerting broad control; using a file system metaphor for resource transfer may be more effective than using an archival package metaphor; and focusing on maintaining low-fidelity, agile, and lightweight access to digital resources for centralized services may be more effective than focusing on maintaining “significant properties” in high-fidelity. This talk presents a simple model isolating the unique characteristics of digital information resources, placing them in the information resource lifecycle and economy, and suggesting prioritization strategies for long-term stewardship services.