Thursday Threads: Digital Legacies, Zettabytes of Information, Digital Books, Alternate Network Architectures

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Mind-expanding topics this week. The threads start with a potentially morbid, but definitely intriguing, topic: what is to become of our personal digital legacies? If that isn’t enough to blow your mind, the next topic is an accounting of the amount of information processed in 2008. Still hanging in there? Then think about what could become of the book if we take advantage of its digital nature. You might not have much room to think big thoughts after those threads, but if you do the last one explores what could become of how our machines talk to each other.

Iron Mountain to Close its Virtual File Store Service

About two years ago I wrote a blog post wondering if we could outsource the preservation of digital bits. What prompted that blog post was an announcement from Iron Mountain of a Cloud-Based File Archiving service. Since then there have been a number of other services that have sprung up that are more attuned to the needs of cultural heritage communities (DuraCloud and Chronopolis come to mind), but I have wondered if the commercial sector had a way to do this cheaply and efficiently. The answer to that question is “maybe not” as Iron Mountain has told Gartner Group (PDF archive) that it is closing its Virtual File Store services and its Archive Service Platform.

Thursday Threads: Kindle Singles and Kindle Accessibility, Sped-up Discourse, ISBN Troubles

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This week Amazon takes center stage of DLTJ Thursday Threads with a report of their new Kindle Singles program for medium-form digital content and a screen-reader-aware version of the Kindle reader application for PCs. After that is a look at how scholarly discourse is changing — radically! — with the availability and use of near-real-time feedback loops. And we close out with a peek at shaky ground in the world of ISBN identifiers.

Options in Storage for Digital Preservation

A last-minute change to my plans for ALA Midwinter came on Tuesday when I was sought out to fill in for a speaker than canceled at the ALCTS Digital Preservation Interest Group meeting. Options for outsourcing storage and services for preserving digital content has been a recent interest, so I volunteered to combine two earlier DLTJ blog posts with some new information and present it to the group for feedback. The reaction was great, and here is the promised slide deck, links to further information, and some thoughts from the audience response.

Thursday Threads: Amazon Pressures Publishers, Academic Spam, Mechanical Turk Spam, Multispectral Imaging

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With the close of the year approaching, this issue marks the 14th week of DLTJ Thursday Threads. This issue has a publisher’s view of Amazon’s strong-arm tactics in book pricing, research into the possibility that academic authors could game Google Scholar with spam, demonstrations of how Amazon’s Mechanical Turk drives down the cost of enlisting humans to overwhelm anti-spam systems, and a story of multispectral imaging adding information in the process of digital preservation.

As the new year approaches, I wish you the best professionally and personally.

Books After Amazon

Latest Views on JPEG2000 for Presentation and Archiving

Earlier this month, the JPEG 2000 Implementation Working Group, the Wellcome Trust Library, and the U.K. Digital Preservation Coalition hosted a free one-day seminar called JPEG2000 for the Practitioner. The presentation slides are now linked to the seminar program and is a short report of the event by Christy Henshaw of Wellcome Library. The presentation slides by themselves carry a great deal of depth even without a recording of the audio. In particular I can recommend “What did JPEG 2000 ever do for us?” by Simon Tanner and “JPEG 2000 standardization – a pragmatic viewpoint” by Richard Clark. As brief introductions to where we’ve been with JPEG 2000 and where we could go.

Can We Outsource the Preservation of Digital Bits?

A colleague forwarded an article from The Register with news of a new service from Iron Mountain for Cloud-Based File Archiving. It is billed as a “storage archiving service designed to help companies reduce costs of storing and managing static data files.” My place of work is facing an increasing need large-scale digital preservation storage with the acquisition of a large collection of music and the conversion of our educational videos from physical DVD preservation to digital preservation. We’re talking terabytes of content that is we need to keep in its archival form — uncompressed, high quality media files (not the lower quality, derivatives for day-to-day access). It doesn’t make sense to keep that on expensive SAN storage, of course, so this article struck me at just the right time to consider alternatives.

Survey Responses Sought: JPEG2000 for Still Images

David Lowe, Preservation Librarian at the University of Connecticut, is coordinating a survey of JPEG2000 use for digital imagery. The survey asks questions about the use of the JPEG2000 file format (for archival purposes or for access systems), tools used (both JPEG2000 toolkits and software that embeds JPEG2000 toolkits), and considerations of mathematically lossless versus visually lossless compression settings.

This is his announcement:

I am writing to solicit your help with a survey of library-related digital project staff regarding the implementation of the JPEG 2000 standard for digital images (specifically still images and not motion). We estimate that this task will take approximately 15 minutes of your time. It is available now at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=WXFAJwyRNZZilRWzrnum_2fw_3d_3d

Long-term Preservation Storage: OCLC Digital Archive versus Amazon S3

Last month OCLC announced a new service offering for long-term storage of libraries’ digital collections. Called Digital Archive™, it provides “a secure storage environment for you to easily manage and monitor the health of your master files and digital originals.” Barbara Quint has an article in Information Today called “OCLC Introduces High-Priced Digital Archive Service” in which she makes a comparison to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (or “S3″) from primarily a cost perspective: “The price for S3 storage at Amazon Web Services is 15 cents a gigabyte a month or $1.80 a year, in comparison to OCLC’s $7.50 a gig.” Barbara also goes into some of the technical differences, but I think it might be worthwhile to go a little more into depth on them.

Preserving Digital Video

My place of work is looking to acquire educational videos in a digital form with an eye towards long-term preservation. At this point we receive a physical form (preferably DVD, but sometimes VHS) and digitize it to a very lossy access format (RealMedia, in this case). With this change, we would get a preservation-worthy digital copy from the producer/distributor and forego the physical version.

There is quite a lot written on preserving video, but I wanted to distill the requirements down into statements that vendors could reasonably provide today. I think these are pretty sound requirements, but I’m looking for feedback. In particular, I’m not quite sure how to handle the transfer of closed caption text from the publisher/distributor; suggestions are welcome.