iPRES 2011 Keynotes

Keynote 1: Digital Preservation: Why should today's society pay for the benefit of society in future?

by Prof Seamus Ross, iSchool, University of Toronto


There appears to be a tacit assumption in library, archive, and cultural heritage management communities that there are benefits that contemporary society can pass to future generations by actively preserving digital materials. In general, many of us hold this assumption based on a very sketchy understanding of the resource implications of digital curation and preservation, and a hazy vision of the benefits that will accrue to future generations. Digital preservation requires regular engagement in the management of digital assets.  All preservation activities have costs associated with them and these are not always easy to quantify or to predict. These costs are also difficult to justify as research in digital preservation has not established a clear positive relationship between costs and benefits (e.g., a cost-benefits ratio).  To evaluate this link we need to understand the costs and a number of research projects are working on aspects of this problem now.   There has been less work on benefits, such as economic, social, political, and intellectual benefits.  This paper considers why our society should pay for preservation even when the preservation costs are not securely quantifiable and the benefits to the future generations not necessarily identifiable either.

Seamus Ross is Dean and Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Formerly, he was Professor of Humanities Informatics and Digital Curation and Founding Director of HATII (Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute) (1997-2009) at the University of Glasgow. He served as an Associate Director of the Digital Curation Centre (2004-9) in the UK, and was Principal Director of ERPANETand DigitalPreservationEurope (DPE) and a co-principal investigator such projects as the DELOS Digital Libraries Network of Excellence and Planets. He recommends Digital Preservation and Nuclear Disaster: An Animation,and "Digital Archaeology" (1999).


Keynote 2: Preserving motion picture film, so much to do so little time…

by Mick Newnham, Manager, Conservation, Preparation and Research, National Film and Sound Archive of Australia


It is reasonable to say that motion picture film not only recorded, but also helped to shape the 20th century. Archives, libraries and private collections hold millions of hours of information stored on motion picture film of one type or another. However motion picture film is not a permanent record; poor handling and storage environments will reduce the useful life of motion picture film considerably. Even films produced within the last decade may be at risk if not cared for adequately. This presentation will look at the issues of film preservation from the traditional approach of film as film and the emerging options for film to be preserved digitally and compares the advantages and risks of each method.

Mick Newnham is currently the Manager: Conservation Preparation & Research at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA). Prior to joining the NFSA in 1988, Mick worked at the Department of Chemistry, University College; University of New South Wales. Mick was the Chair of the Technical Committee of the South East Asia Pacific Audio Visual Archives Association (SEAPAVAA) from 2000 to 2005 and has worked with the Technical Commission of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the Preservation Committee of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) and contributed to the work of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) TC-42 on the development of standards and recommended practices for the preservation of audiovisual objects. Mick is a lecturer in audiovisual preservation with Charles Sturt University and frequently provides consultancies and training workshops in SE Asia and many other parts of the world.


Keynote 3: Opportunities & Challenges of Preserving Research Data

by Dr Ross Wilkinson, Executive Director, Australian National Data Service


There are significant changes in the research data environment, enabling innovation in research approaches. Consequently the challenges for preserving research data are growing as the use of research data is much wider, and the nature of research data changes. Imagine creating a preserved research data environment for hydrological research in the interior of Australia: it needs sensor data, historical water records, data from quite different fields that will be put to new uses - species counts, flux tower observations. The value of this new data environment is immense, as are the challenges of preserving it for a wide range of purposes.

This talk will examine the opportunities and challenges of preserving research data in an Australian context, and some of the initiatives that are underway in Australia that makes these challenges pressing.

Dr. Ross Wilkinson is the Executive Director of the Australian National Data Service, dedicated to enabling more researchers re-use data more often. His research career commenced with his Ph.D. in mathematics at Monash University before researching in computer science at La Trobe University, R.M.I.T. and at CSIRO. Some of his areas of research have been document retrieval effectiveness, structured documents retrieval, and most recently on technologies that support people to interact with their information environments. He has published over 90 research papers, has served on many program committees and was a program co-chair for both SIGIR’96 and SIGIR’98. He is now leading the Australian National Data Service creating tools, information, frameworks and the skills to enable Australia’s researchers to more effectively use and re-use research data, wherever it comes from.