Last week we assembled a group of 30 practitioners and developers and and got down to some practical digital preservation work in what we call a SPRUCE Project Mashup
. We've run quite a few of them now, but each one is a little different as the agenda is set by our participants and the challenges they bring to the table. I'm always a little nervous running an agile event like this. I try and do as much advance planning as possible, and speak to those who have signed up for an event before the actual kick off. But until we hear from them in a series of lightning talks that mark the start of the mashup, and discover what digital data and preservation challenges they have brought along, it's impossible to tell how it's going to go. I need not have worried. Our practitioners showed up with quite possibly the most diverse range of data and definitely the greatest number of collections that we've seen before. Lots of stuff that we were able to get our teeth into.
The first challenge was therefore to work through what we had and prioritize it for challenges that we could take on and address at the event. This was not straightforward! It took more time than usual, simply due to the volume of material and the complexity of the issues at hand. Our participants did the hard work of working through these potential challenges but they needed some gentle pushing to home in on the most likely targets.
The second challenge was more mundane but potentially far more catastophic. Every hackathon facilitators nightmare. The wifi was buckling under the strain! Now having run a variety of mashups and hackathons, I'm well aware of the top three requirements for agile digital events: wifi, wifi and more wifi. Unfortunately some recent changes in IT "support" at our venue, 2 days before our event, left the network in trouble. Team work from our techs and facilitators managed to get it sorted eventually, but this put us a little on the backfoot throughout the first half of the event.
Fortunately our wonderful participants battled through the wifi issues and delivered some excellent results which included the usual array of collection assessment, metadata management and deep characterisation. It also included an unusual array of other challenges and solutions including the exploration of the preservation of some niche data types such as 3D laser scanned point clouds. At the time of blogging, some final writing up and wiki gardening is still ongoing. But most of the results of our digital preservation work can be found here
. Our participants voted for the best practitioner and best developer at the event, with Eleonora Nicchiarelli from University of Nottingham taking the practitioner award and Pete Cliff from the British Library winning the dev prize. Both are pictured here with Bo Middleton from the SPRUCE Project.
As well as solving DP challenges we guided our practitioners through a series of steps in building the key components of a digital preservation business case
. The combined data we've collected from each of our mashups has provided a lot of really useful evidence that we'll be building into a SPRUCE business case toolkit over the coming months.
Our attendees will now have the chance to bid for small chunks of follow on funding
, to assist them with further development or embedding of their mashup work at their own institutions. The work for these SPRUCE Awards will be undertaken over the final months of the SPRUCE Project.
Yes, unfortunately SPRUCE is coming to an end in November, but we hope that many of the results and the community building we've undertaken on the project will be taken forward beyond that point. Some of the best work from SPRUCE is now being showcased on the new Open Planets Foundation
site. The OPF will be working to sustain and build on the practical digital preservation work undertaken by SPRUCE, which you can find here
. In a similar way, the business case toolkit will find a future home on the Digital Preservation Coalition