Interview with a SCAPEr – Ed Fay

Interview with a SCAPEr – Ed Fay

Who are you?

My name is Ed Fay, I’m the Executive Director of the Open Planets Foundation.

Tell us a bit about your role in SCAPE and what SCAPE work you are involved in right now?

OPF has been involved in technical and take-up work all the way through the project, but right now we’re focused on sustainability – what happens to all the great results that have been produced after the end of the project.

Why is your organisation involved in SCAPE?

OPF has been responsible for leading the sustainability work and will provide a long-term home for the outputs, preserving the software and providing an ongoing collaboration of project partners and others on best practices and other learning. OPF members include many institutions who have not been part of SCAPE but who have an interest in continuing to develop the products, and through the work that has been done – for example on software maturity and training materials – OPF can help to lower barriers to adoption by these institutions and others.

What are the biggest challenges in SCAPE as you see it?

The biggest challenge in sustainability is identifying a collaboration model that can persist outside of project funding. As cultural heritage budgets are squeezed around the world and institutions adapt to a rapidly changing digital environment the community needs to make best use of the massive investment in R&D that has been made, by bodies such as the EC in projects such as SCAPE. OPF is a sustainable membership organisation which is helping to answer these challenges for its members and provide effective and efficient routes to implementing the necessary changes to working practices and infrastructure. In 20 years we won’t be asking how to sustain work such as this – it will be business as usual for memory institutions everywhere – but right now the digital future is far from evenly distributed.

But from the SCAPE perspective we have a robust plan which encompasses many different routes to adoption, which is of course the ultimate route to sustainability – production use of the outputs by the community for which they were intended. The fact that many outputs are already in active use – as open-source tools and embedded into commercial systems – shows that SCAPE has produced not only great research but mature products which are ready to be put to work in real-world situations.

What do you think will be the most valuable outcome of SCAPE?

This is very difficult for me to answer! Right now OPF has the privileged perspective of transferring everything that has matured during the project into our stewardship – from initial research, through development, and now into mature products which are ready for the community. So my expectation is that there are lots of valuable outputs which are not only relevant in the context of SCAPE but also as independent components. One particular product has already been shortlisted for the Digital Preservation Awards 2014 which is being co-sponsored by OPF this year while others have won awards at DL2014. These might be the most visible in receiving accolades, but there are many other tools and services which provide the opportunity to enhance digital preservation practice within a broad range of institutions. I think the fact that SCAPE is truly cross-domain is very exciting – working with scientific data, cultural heritage, web harvesting – it shows that digital preservation is truly maturing as a discipline.

If there could be one thing to come out of this, it would be a understanding of how to continue the outstanding collaboration that SCAPE has enabled to sustain cost-effective digital preservation solutions that can be adopted by institutions of all sizes and diversity.

Contact information

[email protected]


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