Another bit bytes the dust: the technological and human challenges of digital preservation

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Zaste, Chris
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Digital communication produces millions of emails, text messages, movies, images, and much more every day. As with all historical records, digital records are important to preserve because they allow us to study the past. There are, however, several challenges regarding their preservation. Unlike many of their analogue counterparts, digital records rely on a combination of hardware and software to be accessible, but hardware and software eventually degrade and become obsolete. This makes digital records inaccessible because the means to render them are no longer available. In addition to these technological challenges, there are issues surrounding appraisal, copyright, significant properties, and metadata. This thesis studies the challenges of digital preservation and what is being done to address them. I begin by introducing the challenges surrounding this topic and the methods of preservation that are currently available to archivists. I then analyse leading digital preservation standards such as the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) and Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies (PREMIS) as well as digital preservation systems including Archivematica and Preservica. I also conduct a case study of Archivematica to analyse how well it manages the challenges of digital preservation. I conclude by explaining that there are no perfect solutions to digital preservation problems. The best that can currently be done is to manage the issues rather than solve them.
Archives, Digital preservation, Digital records, Open archival information system, OAIS, Preservation metadata: implementation strategies, PREMIS, Digital preservation systems