Digital Preservation Theory and Application: Transcontinental Persistent Archives Testbed Activity

  • Paul Watry


The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and EU SHAMAN projects are working with multiple research institutions on tools and technologies that will supply a comprehensive, systematic, and dynamic means for preserving virtually any type of electronic record, free from dependence on any specific hardware or software. This paper describes the joint development work between the University of Liverpool and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego on the NARA and SHAMAN prototypes. The aim is to provide technologies in support of the required generic data management infrastructure. We describe a Theory of Preservation that quantifies how communication can be accomplished when future technologies are different from those available at present. This includes not only different hardware and software, but also different standards for encoding information. We describe the concept of a “digital ontology” to characterize preservation processes; this is an advance on the current OAIS Reference Model of providing representation information about records. To realize a comprehensive Theory of Preservation, we describe the ongoing integration of distributed shared collection management technologies, digital library browsing, and presentation technologies for the NARA and SHAMAN Persistent Archive Testbeds.
Research Papers