So here it comes, the SCAPE Planning-and-Watch blog. I am having the pleasure of leading this subproject for one year now and think there has been some fabulous progress made! In this blog, I will more or less regularly try to update the interested reader on our key goals and milestones, the progress made towards the goals, the major obstacles we see ahead and, of course, exciting results achieved. I will also try to point to further documents as we make them available, put forward our perspectives on integrating other results within and outside of SCAPE, and discuss how to leverage the results of Planning and Watch in organisations.
So what are our goals, then?
The key goal for our subproject is to support large-scale monitoring and control of core preservation processes by improving the information gathering and decision making capabilities so that preservation plans can be created and monitored over time for large collections of diverse types of content.
A key result of the PLANETS project, the preservation planning method and tool Plato, provides a well-founded, validated and solid approach to creating preservation plans for well-defined sets of objects:
“A preservation plan defines a series of preservation actions to be taken by a responsible institution due to an identified risk for a given set of digital objects or records (called collection).
The Preservation Plan takes into account the preservation policies, legal obligations, organisational and technical constraints, user requirements and preservation goals and describes the preservation context, the evaluated preservation strategies and the resulting decision for one strategy, including the reasoning for the decision. It also specifies a series of steps or actions (called preservation action plan) along with responsibilities and rules and conditions for execution on the collection. Provided that the actions and their deployment as well as the technical environment allow it, this action plan is an executable workflow definition.” [IJDL 2009]
This framework and method is a powerful starting point, proven to work and widely welcomed. But creating such a plan is complex and effort-intensive, and monitoring changes over time that require a change in plans is currently, at best, a manual activity. Finally, the context of such plans is complex too: The policies, drivers, constraints and goals of an organisation have to be related intellectually, manually, to specific preservation objectives and plans. Hence, until now, large-scale planning of operations is difficult.
On the other hand, simply relying on general guidelines instead of taking specific decisions may appear scalable, but is hardly adequate to achieve trustworthy preservation. And of course, it is certainly inadequate to optimise achievement of goals within organisations. So when we talk about “Automated” Planning and Watch in SCAPE, the idea is not to take decision making away from people. The goal is to enable preservation planners to focus on those things that are decisions, to relieve planners of tedious tasks as far as possible in order to support scalable control:
“SCAPE will support institutions in identifying the optimal actions to take for preserving their content, within the constraints of their institutional policies… The project will evolve preservation planning from one-off decision-making procedures into a continuous, and continuously optimising, management activity. We will move from semi-manual tool-supported decision-making towards largely automated, policy-driven preservation planning and watch. The resulting SCAPE preservation planning framework will allow us to manage preservation processes better and more cost-effectively through improved automation.” [SCAPE]
To this end, we are developing a set of methods and tools in three work packages:
1. Automated Watch
2. Policy Representation
3. Automated Planning
For more about these, how they relate, where they stand and what they have produced, please stay tuned for the next post – or start reading some of the articles that we published or the deliverables we released in the last year!
Preservation Decisions: Terms and Conditions apply. Challenges, Misperceptions and Lessons Learned in Preservation Planning. In: ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2011). June 13-17, 2011, Ottawa, Canada.
Decision criteria in digital preservation: What to measure and how. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), Volume 62, Issue 6, 1009-1028, June 2011. DOI: 10.1002/asi.21527
Impact Assessment of Decision Criteria in Preservation Planning. In: 8th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects (IPRES 2011), 1st -4th Nov 2011, Singapore
Automated Preservation: The Case of Digital Raw Photographs. In: International Conference on Asia-Pacific Digital Libraries (ICADL’11). October 2011, Beijing, China
Control Objectives for DP: Digital Preservation as an Integrated Part of IT Governance. In: 74th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST). October 2011, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Deliverable D14.1: Report on decision factors and their influence on planning (November 2011)
Deliverable D12.1: Preservation watch component architecture (January 2012)