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Workshop to Focus on Preserving Digital Data

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Experts on digital preservation are gathering at a workshop at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md., from March 29 to 31 to develop a standards roadmap on preserving the vast and growing amount of digital data over the long term.

"A digital preservation interoperability framework is essential for effective and reliable access to preserved digital content between preservation repositories," says NIST computer scientist and workshop program chair Wo Chang.

The amount of digital data and content is huge and expanding rapidly. The data range from digitized historical maps, medical images, scientific modeling and simulations, national records, financial transactions, health records, personal photos and videos to blogs and email. A recent study by the International Data Corp. estimates that by 2011 there will be 1,610 exabytes (one exabyte is 1,018 bytes) of digital information. For scale, Michael Lesk of the Rutgers University Department of Library and Information Science has estimated in "How Much Information Is There In the World?" that the holdings of the entire Library of Congress, if digitized, would amount to about three petabytes.

Observing that "science in the 21st century will be conducted in a fully digital world," the National Science and Technology Council's Interagency Working Group on Digital Data identified digital data preservation and access as a key strategic issue in its recent report, "Harnessing the Power of Digital Data for Science and Society."

Attendees at the "U.S. Workshop on Roadmap for Digital Preservation Interoperability Framework" will identify requirements, technologies and best practices for digital preservation standardization to establish a national roadmap. The roadmap will be used to develop a digital preservation standard so that users and systems can access digital content even when preserved on varied equipment by different digital preservation repositories.

Workshop attendees are expected to come from organizations handling preservation operations, strategies and requirements; technology developers that provide preservation approaches and solutions; and standards bodies establishing preservation best practices in metadata, file format, packaging, management and protection.

NIST is co-sponsoring the workshop with the U.S. InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) Ad Hoc Committee on Digital Content Management and Protection (DCMP) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Study Group on DCMP.

After the U.S. workshop in March, the "First International Digital Preservation Interoperability Framework (DPIF) Symposium" will be held on April 21-23, 2010, in Dresden, Germany, to gather requirements, technology and best practices on an international level. "Both roadmaps will be combined and provided to the ISO/IEC study group to standardize a digital preservation interoperability framework," says Chang.

To register for the March DPIF workshop or find more information on the project, go to


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