Author Archives: Brian Kelly

Storing Information in the Cloud

In a guest blog post Nicole Schulz, Teaching Fellow in the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University reports on a recent survey on Storing Information in the Cloud.

Storing Information in the Cloud

The Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University is currently running a small research project funded by the Society of Archivists examining operational, legal and security issues relating to the storage of information in the cloud for access. This is a topic which is likely to be of interest to those involved in website preservation work, as there has been increased interest in cloud services to support institutional activities. Although the project does not address preservation issues directly, the outputs of the project should be of interest to information professionals involved in digital preservation. We already had interest from various institutions in a follow-up project on preservation issues and are hoping to continue research in that in the near future – so watch this space!

What is the Aim of the Project?

Our aim is to generate debate and to highlight some of the issues surrounding the storage of information in a virtual environment. We have already seen many organisations outsourcing email and data storage to cloud providers such as Google and Amazon for cost and efficiency reasons. Cloud computing can have financial and operational advantages such as reduced deployment cost, increased storage capabilities and scalability. However, cloud computing raises quite a few security and compliance issues that need to be addressed when outsourcing information storage to third parties.

We, therefore, aim to develop a toolkit designed to enable information professionals whose organisations are about to deploy information into the cloud to ask the right questions and identify the right strategies for ensuring that information is kept securely, accessible and in line with relevant legislation. Even though preservation will not feature prominently in the toolkit, it is understood that preservation questions are an integral part of assessing how to manage the information life-cycle in the cloud and need to be addressed right at the start of setting up information management services and procedures.

What did the Survey tell us?

As a first step, we conducted an online survey aimed rather narrowly at information management professionals as the main stakeholders in information security and governance via Listservs and professional bodies’ members lists. Given the limited chosen audience we had a good response rate and gathered interesting insights into what professionals think and do about storing information in the cloud:

  • The overwhelming majority of people who completed the survey worked in the public sector.
  • Roughly 30% of participants said that their organisations are already using cloud computing and another 40% claim that their organisations are interested in cloud computing but have no active plans as yet.
  • Most organisations use or intend to use software-as-a-service and deployment into a private cloud as cloud computing models.
  • Data storage, email and standard office applications were named as the main IT services deployed into the cloud.
  • There appeared to be no single outstanding driver for cloud computing – reducing cost, scalability and flexibility were the most popular by a small margin.
  • Similarly, concerns about storing information in the cloud appeared to be evenly spread with concerns about the retrieval/destruction of data when terminating the cloud service, loss of control over data and data protection at the top of the issues list.
  • Preservation and retention management were singled out for areas of further research. And demand in further guidance on operational, security and legal aspects in the form of best practice guidance was identified by the majority of participants

What is Next?

We will run a workshop in Manchester on 21 May 2010 in order to work through some cloud storage scenarios and investigate further issues and approaches to ensuring the secure storage of information in the cloud. Bookings will open soon and you can find more information about the workshops at

Following the analysis of the results of both the survey and the workshop, a toolkit and report will be made available by the Society of Archivists in the autumn of this year.

If you have an interesting case study or would like to find out more, please contact me (email:

Nicole Schulz
Teaching Fellow
Department of Information Studies
Aberystwyth University
Llanbadarn Fawr
Aberystwyth SY23 3AS

“A Fifth Of BBC Sites Are Already Dead”

The Paid:Content:UK blog has recently published an article which informs us that “A Fifth Of BBC Sites Are Already Dead“. The article begins by annocing that “Nearly half of the websites most likely to be closed as part of its big Strategic Review have already long been shut, some for as much as eight years“.

A list of a number of the sites which have been ‘mothballed’ is given in the article. Some of the sites are for programmes that have ceased broadcasting (eg. On The Record) and others are for events which are now over (e.g. Politics ‘97).

I was particularly interested to read about the BBC policies regarding the decommissioning of such Web sites. The article provide a link to the BBC’s policy which describes that inactive pages are left online for reference as “We don’t want to delete pages which users may have bookmarked or linked to in other ways. In general, our policy is only to remove pages where the information provided has become so outdated that it may lead to actual harm or damage.”

With the promises of large cuts for public sector organisations in the offing after the general election I suspect that we will find Web sites in many higher education origanisation being decommissioned.  But will  content be simply deleted, will the content be left ‘as is’ or will a more manged approach to such decommissioning take place? 

I feel there will be a renewed interest in the decommisioning of Web sites.  I hope the JISC PoWR’s Handbook on the Preservation of Web Resources will be of interest to organisations which find themselves  in this position.

The Demise of Geocities – But a Renewed Interest in Web Site Archeology

An article published today on the Guardian Technology Web site entitled “Geocities: dead but not lost” describes how Geocities, which was founded in 1994 and was at one stage the third most-browsed site on the web, is now dead.

Geocities pageWe discussed Yahoo’s announcement that the Geocities service was to be shut down some time ago in a post entitled ““Seething With Anger” at the Demise of Geocities“. What I find interesting in the article is the information that “… there’s the real effort, by the Archive Team, who have been trying to archive as many Geocities pages and sites as they could“.

I’d not come across the Archive Team wiki before. They describe themselves as a “project composed of volunteers, currently coordinated by Jason Scott” which invites.

  • Writers, who can create clear essays and instructions for archivists and concerned parties.
  • People with Lots of Hosted Disk Space who have a proper hosted webserver and fat pipe, who are willing (when asked) to consider hosting mirrored dead sites or archives.
  • People who love setting up torrents who can do the same as the mirror folks, but do so hosting torrents.
  • OCD-rich individuals who want to download things who will respond to our alerts and call outs and download entire sites or diagnose ways to get at obfuscated data.

The wiki home page informs us that “This website is intended to be an offloading point and information depot for a number of archiving projects, all related to saving websites or data that is in danger of being lost. Besides serving as a hub for team-based pulling down and mirroring of data, this site will provide advice on managing your own data and rescuing it from the brink of destruction.”

Hmm. I wonder how effective a volunteer organisation is likely to me? My initial thoughts were fairly sceptical, but other volunteer-led initiatives, such as Wikipedia, do seem to be successful. What are your thoughts?

“Why you never should leave it to the University”

A blog post from Richard Gatarski begins with the blunt announcement:

A year ago my academic web site disappeared. And those who made it go away probably ignored that such a thing could happen.

The article goes on to describe how last year Richard “found out that the School of Business had redesigned their web site. And in the process they just ignored my research. About ten years worth of virtually daily updates were gone That included most of the manuscripts for my published work. The same thing happened to lecture notes, powerpoint slides, course documentations, useful links, etc. It had all disappeared from the Web!“.

Richard did have some good news to report: “Courtesy of the Internet Archive you can still find most of my academic stuff on the Web through their Wayback machine.” although Richard did wonder why he had to rely on the Internet Archive (“a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library”) – after all, wouldn’t you expect your institutional library to provide this service?

Richard’s losses of his digital resources have continued – a blog he set up at Stockholm University was deleted after he left the institution – although, again a copy is archived on the Internet Archive.

Richard’s experiences have left him disillusioned with the attitudes towards the digital preservation of scholarly resources. He concludes by recommending that academics take responsibility themselves for preserving their resources:

Meanwhile, for those of you who publish stuff on the Web while working with an organisation, including universities. Try to put your content where you control it. Most likely you will move between work places, temporary assignments, and soforth. If you want your stuff to be preserved, it is your responsability to make sure it is.

But how easy will this be for the typical academic? Richard doubts whether “the issues I bring forward today are heavily discussed among university chancellors, political leaders, educational policy makers, and scientific philosophers.”  But surely we need to ensure that this debate takes place. And, in today’s economic climate, that debate needs to include discussions of the costs of digital preservation (disk storage may be cheap but management of content is not).

Richard’s tale is based on his experiences as an academic in Sweden. Is the situation different in the UK, I wonder?  Judging by Stuart Smith’s lament that “Mummy I lost my MP3!“, which I summarised in a post on “Disappearing Resources On Institutional Web Sites” in December 2008 it would seem that we have similar experiences in the UK higher education sector. Does anyone have any positive experiences to share?

An Archive Of IWMW 2009 Tweets

In a recent blog post entitled Tools For Preserving Twitter Posts I described some of the Twitter preservation tools we were planning to use to keep a record of the tweets related to UKOLN’s recent IWMW 2009 event.

Twitter proved very popular during this annual event for institutional Web managers, with over 1,500 Twitter posts (tweets) being published during the last week of July. Further statistical information is provided in a post on Evidence on Use of Twitter for Live Blogging.

We suggested that a two character code (P1 to P8)  could be used to identify each plenary session and that using this as a hashtag in conjunction with the event’s hashtag (#iwmw2009) would enable the tweets about a particular talk to be easily identified and, in theory, this data migrated to a managed environment.

As an example you can search for the tweets related to:

We have recently used The Archivist desktop application to create a local copy of the tweets for the plenary  talks at the conference, and these have been made available on the IWMW 2009 Web site from the individual pages for the plenary talks (e.g. see the page for Derek Law’s opening plenary talk). The pages also contain a summary of the number of Twitter posts which were found using the tool.

One reason for wishing to do this is to provide an answer to the speaker who may ask “I Wonder What They Thought About My Session?“.

Preservation and Google Wave

A number of scientists have written enthusiastic blog posts about the potential of Google Wave including Peter Murray-Rust, Cameron Neylon and several others. A post entitled Google Wave: possibilities for librarians on the Rambling Librarian blog provides a useful summary of Google Wave and how it aims to provide a response to the question “What might email be like if it was invented today?

The Rambling Librarian post also picks up on the important “implication … that digital preservation will be even more critical. Imagine all the collaborative efforts gone when the server crashes. Or power fails.

Absolutely! And let’s ensure that the digital preservation aspects are being considered right at the start of any development activities rather than being ignored by those focussing on the new possibilities which this technology can provide.

Hmm, I wonder if there are any funding possibilities available for exploring the preservation aspects of Google Wave?

Preservation Policies for Content Hosted on Third Party Blogs

We know that a variety of externally-hosted Web 2.0 services are being used to support institutional aims. But what about the associated risks of loss of important resources?  One approach to such risk would be to ban use of such services. But this is to ignore the benefits that such services provide and is likely to alienate users of such services if it were possible to implement such a policy.

The approach taken by the JISC PoWR project ( and described in more detail in the JISC PoWR handbook – see particularly chapter 13) has been to recognise that there are legitimate reasons to make use of such services and to look at ways in which content hosted on such services can be managed and curated in the long term.

The need to do this is of relevance to UKOLN which provides a number of blogs on externally-hosted services including the UK Web Focus blog, provided by Brian Kelly and the Rambling of a Remote Worker blog, provided by Marieke Guy.

The first stage is to define and publicise a policy covering the long-term access to the content of these two blogs, including what will happen if either of the authors leaves UKOLN.

Policies posted on the UK Web Focus and Ramblings of a Remote Worker blogs state that:

  • A rich copy of the contents of the blog will be made available to UKOLN (my host organisation) if I leave. Note that this may not include the full content if there are complications concerning third party content (e.g. guest blog posts, embedded objects, etc.), technical difficulties, etc.
  • Since the blog reflects personal views I reserve the rights to continue providing the blog if I leave UKOLN. If this happens I will remove any UKOLN branding from the blog.

These two simple statements can help, we feel, in ensuring that the content can be managed if the blog authors leave (or if they fall ill, go crazy or die!). The statements seek to avoid uncertainties regarding what can be done with the content.  The second statement also clarifies that if the authors were to leave, they may wish to continue using the blog.

It may be argued that since both blogs make their content available under a Creative Commons licence this already grants the host institution, along with anyone else, the rights to preserve the content. This may be true, but there is no harm in making this explicit, we feel.

Would it not be legitimate for organisations to expect its employees to make similar statements which clarify the ownership of content hosted on Web 2.0 services and created as a normal course of one’s duties?

Note: This blog post has been written to support a poster which will be provided for the Missing links: the enduring web conference. The poster, which has been produced by Marieke Guy and Brian Kelly, UKOLN, is entitled “Preservation Policies and Approaches for Use of Web 2.0 Services“. A series of blog posts published on this blog provide more detailed information of the content summarised in the poster.

Tools For Preserving Twitter Posts

I recently described some Some Use Cases For Preserving Twitter Posts including preservation of an organisation’s digital memory and preservation of data for subsequent data mining. The post, however, failed to include perhaps the most obvious example: preservation of Twitter posts (tweets) related to an event.

In response to that post a number of solutions for preserving tweets were suggested including FriendFeed, the WordPress Lifestream plugin and What the Hashtag. In addition following a tweet I posted I received details of the Tweetdoc service.

With this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW 2009) rapidly approaching it is timely to decide the tools we’ll be using to preserve the discussions associated with this event. We began keeping a record of the amplification of the IWMW event back in 2005 when an IRC channel was provided for use by the small numbers of participants who had a laptop and WiFi connectivity at the event. The IWMW 2005 event took place during the 7/7 bombings in London and a record of the awareness of what was having can be gleaned from the archive of the IRC discussions.

This year we will once again be making use of Twitter and will be capturing tweets which contain the event hashtag #iwmw2009.  The tools we are currently intending to use are What the Hashtag and Tweetdoc service.

Use of wthashtags service to view Twitter posts about #iwmw2009Use of What the Hashtag to views tweets containing the #iwmw2009 tag is illustrated.

As can be seen the output can be access as an RSS feed. In addition the data can be viewed as an HTML resource, and a data range can also be supplied.

We intend to capture this tweets about the IWMW 2009 event after the event is over, and store the data on the UKOLN Web site, in order to avoid dependencies on the What the Hashtag service itself.

We will also explore other services, such as Tweetdoc – although in this case as the data is only available as a PDF resource, it is not well-suited to provide data for analysis by other services.

Are there any other services we should be looking at? And what functionality might be desirable for a more generic service for preserving tweet? Any thoughts?

Note: This blog post has been written to support a poster which will be provided for the Missing links: the enduring web conference. The poster, which has been produced by Marieke Guy and Brian Kelly, UKOLN, is entitled “Preservation Policies and Approaches for Use of Web 2.0 Services“. A series of blog posts published on this blog provide more detailed information of the content summarised in the poster.

Some Use Cases For Preserving Twitter Posts

I’ve come across two schools of thought regarding the preservation of Twitter posts (tweets). From Twitter fans, it’s a really useful form of informal conversation, with a particular strength being the way in which messages quickly disappear. It’s like having conversations in your favourite bar – and we wouldn’t want such conversations preserved, so why would we wish to preserve tweets? Sceptics of Twitter might regard Twitter as inane babble in a bar and would agree that it’s pointless to preserve it.

However this week I have come across a couple of examples which illustrate why it might be useful to preserve tweets.

Preservation of Twitter data for research purposes

I recently described how Twitterers Subvert[ed] Daily Mail’s Racist Poll. For me that provided a fascinating example of how Twitter can be used by activists to support a viral campaign (in this case to undermine the racist sentiments in the question “Should the NHS allow gipsies to jump the queue?“). But why did this poll succeed in attract a large turnout (with the poll being undermined with around 94% voting yes before the Daily Mail removed the poll) whereas a subsequent poll on Should immigrants be forced to respect British culture? failed to arouse much interest?

Since many of the tweets and retweets provided a link to “” we can look at the statistics provided by the short URL service which tells us that 48,796 clicked on the link.

Statistics for clicks to Daily Mail pollAs shown in the histogram as might be expected the vast majority of clicks to the poll took place on 19 June 2009, the day the poll was the hot topic.

But who created the interest in the Twitterverse originally? Was it, as I speculated in my post, the UK-based psychologist community? Or where there a number of starting points? How was the message communicated? Who where the ‘influencers’ (to use the terminology from a recent blog post by Martin Weller) whose tweets were felt to contain links worth following? Who were the ‘hubs’ who were responsible for communicated the message to a wide audience? And was Twitter actually the main driver or were their other viral mechanisms in operation as Josh suggested, who went on to add “we must keep perspective and not neglect other areas or over-celebrate Twitter as a comms tool!“.

In a recent post by Andy Powell on “Influence, connections and outputs” Andy  suggested that we want “some sensible measure of scholarly impact on the social Web” and that we need to understand”what do we want to measure; what we can measure and how can bring these two things close enough together to create something useful”. Although I’m not suggesting that the Twitter responses to the Daily Mail poll have any scholarly impact, I do think that this could provide us with an opportunity to understand how ideas (whether scholarly, political or simply marking) are communicated and transmitted by Twitter. But if we wish to make use of this particular example, we will need to preserve the Twitter stream – and we will need to preserve the structured data (the Twitterer ID, the time, the IDs of those being retweeted and the numbers of followers) in order to carry out any rich analysis.

Preservation of an organisation’s memory

As recently described on the This is Bath blog the Bus station Twitter project ends – today. The bathcsc Twitter account and accompanying blog, were set up to keep users of the First bus service in Bath informed of news – including delays to bus services. Sadly First’s head office in Bath  have announced that the company “is having to make changes to its business structure. As part of making the company more cost efficient, the customer services function for Bath Bus Station will now be handled by a specialist, area-wide centre based at Exeter“.

This news has not gone down well with many of the fans of this innovation use of social networking tools (and I should add that, as a daily bus user, I personally found the Twitter service very useful) as can be gauged from the comments on the blog to the announcement of the demise of the service and on the Bus station Twitter project ends article.

In the article a spokeswoman said that the company was hoping to learn lessons from the nine-month experiment:

The Bath Twitter trial attracted an enormous amount of interest, both inside and outside the organisation. We are now looking at the lessons we have learnt, and benefits associated with the system, with a view to developing a national social media approach to customer services for the future.

But is the company in a position to preserve the tweets? Will the company be in a position to appreciate the ways in which Twitter can be used effectively if this record is lost? The danger, of course, is that a new media markeing agency wil sometime in the future advise on how Twitter could be used – and fail to learn from the successes of the initial trial, perhaps even making as big a mistake as Habitat have done recently.

What To Do? When To Do It?

Are these illustrations of when preservation of Twitter tweets reasonable? If so, can you think of other examples which we need to consider?

And if there is a case to be made for preserving tweets, what tools should be used? I am aware of the Print Your Twitter service, but this just creates a PDF file of tweets matching the search criteria.  To summarise what I think is needed:

  •  Ability to create a structured repository of tweets from a Twitter ID
  •  Ability to create a structured repository of tweets matching a search term

Anyone know of software which can be used to do this? I’m aware that one could simply use Twitter to search for “” or “@bathcsc” but this doesn’t provide a persistent and reusable data store.

New Study – Web Archives: Now and in the Future

A news item on The National Archives Web site has recently announced a new study on “Web Archives: Now and in the Future“. This study, which is funded by the JISC and will take place in collaboration with the UK Web Archiving Consortium, will look into how archived Web sites are collected and made available to users.

The study aims to:

  • Investigate how UK Web archives are delivered to users now, and how they might be delivered in the future
  • Define the long-term historical and research value of online content in the UK
  • Look at different organisations that collect Web archives, and their interests

The study will run until late July 2009, and the results will be published on The National Archives and UK Web Archiving Consortium Web sites in August 2009.

We’ll published details on the availability of the study once it is published.

Digital Preservation and Nuclear Disaster: An Animation

DigitalPreservationEurope (DPE), an organisation which is “committed to making digital preservation materials available to the widest possible audience and to breaking down barriers to access”, has released the first in a series of short animations introducing and explaining digital preservation problems and solutions for the general public.

Not for everyone, I suspect, but I’m pleased to see a diversity of approaches being taken to explaining digital preservation concepts. And making it available on YouTube means that the animation can be easily used in a wide variety of contexts, such as being embedded in this blog post. What do you think?

“Seething With Anger” at the Demise of Geocities

A blog post entitled “The Death and Life of Geocities” has been published recently on the Adactio blog by Jeremy Keith, a Web developer living and working in Brighton, England. In the post Jeremy describes how he is “seething with anger” but then goes on to add that “I hope I can tap into that anger to do something productive“. The reason for the anger is his concern that “Yahoo are planning to destroy their Geocities property. All those URLs, all that content, all those memories will be lost …like tears in the rain“.

Although in an update to his post Jeremy does admit that “no data has been destroyed yet; no links have rotted” and that his “toys-from-pram-throwage may yet prove to be completely unfounded” Jeremy is right to raise concerns regarding the recent announcement that “Yahoo [is] to shut down GeoCities“.

Some people, as illustrated by JR Raphael’s article in PC World entitled “So Long, GeoCities: We Forgot You Still Existed” are not losing any sleep over GeoCities demise whilst others, such as the Online Lunchpail blog feel that “the demise of GeoCities … proves my point that the U.S. government never should have approved the takeover of GeoCities by Yahoo!“.

From my perspective I feel that the concerns raised by Jeremy Keith (who, it should be pointed out, is a professional Web developers) will become more widely appreciated as ordinary Web users, who might have used the first generation of public-facing Web-hosting services such as GeoCities for their initial simple Web development activities, realise that their may be sentimental attachments to one’s early work – just as I regret having lost my scrap book from primary school (I remember writing “When I grow up I want to be a Beatle, sing ‘She loves you, yer, yer, yer’ and earn £100 a week“). And what of the social historians – have we lost our cultural memories of the initial take-up of the Web outside of the universities and business sector?

In a blog post by Jason Scott on the ASCII  “weblog of computer history, punditry and trivia” Jason describes the efforts being made to preserve content published on GeoCities. But Jason admits that

I can’t do this alone. I’m going to be pulling data from these twitching, blood-in-mouth websites for weeks, in the background. I could use help, even if we end up being redundant. More is better. We’re in #archiveteam on EFnet. Stop by. Bring bandwidth and disks. Help me save Geocities. Not because we love it. We hate it. But if you only save the things you love, your archive is a very poor reflection indeed.”

What is to be done? Should the digital preservation for the general public’s digital heritage (as opposed to an institutional digital heritage) be left to volunteers? Or will future generations regard us as having failed in our responsibilities as previous generations failed to preserve the built environment and left us with the soulless shopping centres and high-rise building which were developed during the 1960s?

Call for Papers at a “Workshop on “missing links: the enduring web”

We recently published a blog post about the workshop on “missing links: the enduring web”. Further information about this one-day event, which will take place on 21st July 2009 at the British Library Conference Centre, London, is now available.

Papers and posters are invited which address long term preservation issues in relation to Web content. Abstracts of not more than 300 words should be sent to the conference organisers by 8th May 2009.

“Your List Will Be Closed In One Week’s Time”

The dangers of reliance of externally-hosted Web 2.0 services has been mentioned previously. And there have been recent incidents in which companies have given a short period of notice of impending closure of services, with users having little time to migrate their data to alternative providers. A recent article in The Guardian (Thursday 2 April 2009)  entitled “Can I assume that my online data is safe for ever?” addressed such concerns in an article on the closure of the service, who gave their users just 5 days to migrate their data.

Coincidentally I recently received the following email from a service I subscribe to:

Our previous request to you to provide a new owner for the  list has not produced a response.  Therefore, we assume the list is no longer useful and aim to close it in one week’s time.
We would be happy to provide a zipped copy of the archives and any files on deletion of the list, should they be required.

In this case it appears that the service has been little used for over a year. And yet what if useful information is still available on the service? Is a week’s notice enough for users of the service to consider the implications of this decision, identify appropriate solutions and then implement them? And let’s not forget that this email was sent outside of term time when researchers could be away.

The email did not make it clear if data was to be deleted, the service was to continue to be made available in a read-only mode or the interface to the data hidden – all possible solutions if it is felt necessary for a little-used service to be withdrawn.

There’s still a need to establish the best practices when Web-based interfaces to services are to be removed, I feel. And such issues do not just affect the third party services outside of our community.

Workshop on “missing links: the enduring web”

The Digital Preservation Coalition have recently announced a 1-day workshop on “missing links: the enduring web” which will be held at the British Library Conference Centre on 21st July 2009. This event, which is being organised by the JISC and the UK Web Archiving Consortium in conjunction with the Digital Preservation Coalition, aims to “bring together key stakeholders – web managers, archive managers, preservation experts, national libraries, web archivists and content providers – for practical and focussed discussion on shared perspectives, requirements, problems and solutions. Formal presentations and case studies will be presented with an opportunity for posters and demonstrations of tools“.

We will provide information on the detailed programme and how to register when this information is published.

Who Should Preserve The Web?

Members of the JISC PoWR Team will be participating at next week’s JISC conference, which takes place in Edinburgh on 24th March 2009.

In the session, entitled “Who should preserve the web?” a panel will

“Outline the key issues with archiving and preserving the web and will describe practical ways of approaching these issues. Looking at the international picture and the role of major consortia working in this area, the session will also offer practical advice from the JISC Preservation of Web Resources (PoWR) project on the institutional benefits of preserving web resources, what tools and processes are needed, and how a records management approach may be appropriate.”

If you are attending the conference we hope you will attend the session and participate in the discussions. If you are attending one of the other parallel sessions you can meet the UKOLN members of the  JISC PoWR team at the UKOLN staff. And if you haven’t bookeda place at the conference (which is now fully subscribed) feel free to participate in the discussions on the online forum.

Meet Members of the JISC PoWR Team at the JISC 2009 Conference

JISC PoWR poster for JISC 2009 ConferenceMembers of the JISC PoWR team from UKOLN and ULCC will be attending the JISC 2009 conference in Edinburgh on 24th March 2009. UKOLN will have a stand in the accompanying exhibition and we intend to produce a poster about the work of the JISC PoWR project which will be on display.

In order to help you spot the poster at what is likely to be a very busy event we’ve included an image of the poster in this post (which is also available on Slideshare, if you’ve like to see more details of the content of poster).

If you have an interest in the preservation of Web resources, feel free to come along to the UKOLN stand and chat to myself or Marieke Guy, UKOLN’s team members for the JISC PoWR project.

TASI Is No More! Welcome To JISC Digital Media

The JISC-funded TASI (Technical Advisory Service for Images) is no more. This service, which is based at ILRT, University of Bristol has been reborn as JISC Digital Media, with an expanded remit for supporting digital media in general and not just images, which was the focus of the TASI service. Further information is available on the JISC Web site.

This change has been accompanied by a new domain name – rather than

Now the TASI service provided many useful resources on best practices for digitisation.  But what has happened to links to these resources? Will we get a 404 error message? Or, even worse, will we get a message saying the domain no longer exists?

The QA Focus briefing document on “Improving The Quality Of Digitised Images” contains a reference to a Digital Imaging Basics resource which was available at the URL <>. Following the link takes you to the resource, which is now available at <>.

There seems to have been a simple mapping of resources from the TASI domain to the new JISC Digital Media domain. And as the original resource has ‘cool URIs’ (i.e. they had no dependencies on a specific technology (such as a CMS, Java server pages, etc.) it was technically not a difficult task to migrate the links to the new domain.

Well done TASI / JISC Digital Media. The challenge now is to see how long such redirects will continue to function.

Digital ‘Movage’

Kevin Kelly has coined the term ‘movage’ in a blog post published on 11 December 2008. Kevin argues that:

The only way to archive digital information is to keep it moving. I call this movage instead of storage. Proper movage means transferring the material to current platforms on a regular basis — that is, before the old platform completely dies, and it becomes hard to do.

The reasons for this are the continual changes in the formats and degradation of the storage media. I think this relates to the ideas discussed previously on this blog about an emphasis on ongoing access to Web resources rather than the preservation of such resources. In the case of Web resources the need tends to arise from changes in the technologies used to deliver the Web services rather than the formats themselves.

But whether a new term needs to be created is questionable – after all, Kevin Kelly is simply describing the well-established concept of migration of formats. As described in a glossary entry on the DCC Web site:

Migration: A means of overcoming technical obsolescence by transferring digital resources from one hardware/software generation to the next. The purpose of migration is to preserve the intellectual content of digital objects and to retain the ability for clients to retrieve, display, and otherwise use them in the face of constantly changing technology.

Despite this reservation I still think it’s good to see a slightly different variant on the ideas which have been discussed on this blog reaching a new community.

JISC Advisory Services to be Closed – But Don’t Panic!

A message sent to the JISC infoNet  JISCMail (and other) lists back in November described significant changes to the structure of the JISC Advisory Services:

 JISC and the Advisory Services have been looking at ways to be more agile and flexible to respond to the changing needs and demands of thefurther and higher education communities. The outcome of this review is to create a new company called JISC Services.

JISC infoNet, JISC Legal, JISC TechDis, Netskills, Procureweb and TASI are coming together to create JISC Services which will formally come into existence on 1 August 2009.

The aim of the new company is to create a more flexible and comprehensive source of advice, with increased opportunities for addressing new and changing needs across the community. This change is designed to ensure that our services continue to offer the internationally acclaimed advice for which they are renowned. Putting the further and higher education communities at the centre of what we do will be strengthened by working together as one company to deliver expertise and advice.

You will still be able to access all of the services you currently value via the usual channels and over the next few months the services will increasingly join together at events, on projects and in producing resources.

Find out more about the JISC Services at:

I recently wrote about the closure of organisations and best practices for preserving the resources hosted on the organisational Web sites. This case is rather different – rather than closing down organisations JISC is building on the strengths of the advisory services and seeking to provide benefits to the user community by providing a more seamless interface (and remember, if the advisory services were regarding as failing to deliver a valuable service we might have expected the organisational changes to have provied an opportunity to close any lame ducks).

The challenge, from the perspective of Web site preservation, is to try to ensure that valuable resources are not lost in the merger process.  I feel that this change could provide valuable lessons for the wider community – the JISC Advisory Services, after all, won;t be the last organisations to be reorganised! And let’s hope that the lessons are based on a successful migration of the Web resources, and not lessons on what can go wrong!