Hi! I’m a student on the Archives and Records Management MA at UCL, and this blog follows the personal project that I undertook as part of my coursework for the Digital Curation module of the course.
Wait, what even is Digital Curation?
Digital Curation is a broad and, to me at least, somewhat nebulous-sounding term. This can be a good thing, as it encompasses a vast and ever-evolving range of practices, but it can also be somewhat overwhelming when you are first beginning to learn about the…well, the vast and ever-evolving range of practices that constitute it.
There are a couple of definitions of ‘digital curation’ that I think are helpful:
‘Digital curation involves maintaining, preserving and adding value to digital research data throughout its lifecycle.’ – What is digital curation? on the Digital Curation Centre website.
‘Digital curation is the active involvement of information professionals in the management, including the preservation, of digital data for future use.’ – from the paper ‘Digital Curation’ by Elizabeth Yakel
For me, the second definition adds something important to the first by making clear that all the tasks undertaken on digital material are working in service of making it available for future use. This strikes me as really important; after all, information of any kind only really has value if it is usable!
These definitions also make a crucial distinction between digital curation and digital preservation, in that preservation is only one of a range of activities that can be undertaken in curating digital material to render it safe and accessible.
Throughout this module, I have been learning about these activities, and now it’s time for me to try out some of them myself.
Forming a personal project
During our learning, we were encouraged to find a ‘rabbit hole’ to go down in order to explore a more specific personal interest within the wider context of the digital curation landscape. In one of our first classes, we were provided with a number of resources on archivists and researchers working with obsolete media formats, including WordStar files, floppy disks, and Amiga disks belonging to Andy Warhol. I’ve been interested in how archive professionals are working with obsolete media and file formats for a while now, and after looking at these resources I knew that it was this subject that I wanted to focus my project on.
This blog tracks my attempts at implementing a digital curation workflow of my own design, using BitCurator, on a floppy disk. My goals for the project are not necessarily to perfectly execute all stages of the workflow, but rather to expand my understanding of the processes involved in working with born-digital material in obsolete formats, and how these processes fit into what is understood as ‘digital curation’ more broadly. My plan for this blog is for it to act simultaneously as a record of my own endeavours and a plan that a fellow digital curation newbie looking to expand their skillset could feasibly follow.
Hopefully, by the end of the project I will have learned a few new skills, refined my understanding of digital curation processes, and had fun getting stuck into a technical project of my own design!
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