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Digital Depot - eDAVID npo [ project description ]
[ publications ]
publications and documentation produced specifically within the framework of this project. more...>
[ do it yourself ]
a coherent thematic overview of existing eDAVID documentation that forms the basis of the current Depot project.
[ links ]
links to project partners and a selection of references to interesting related projects.
The Digital Depot project was established by the Expertise Centre DAVID (eDAVID) as a development project on care and disclosure of cultural heritage. The full title of the project is:"DAVID-research: quality requirements for 'born-digital' heritage so that it can be offered for preservation in a digital heritage depot."

Impulse & goals
Just recently, a session on 'heritage in danger' at "Erfgoeddag 2005" (Heritage Day 2005) raised the question of whether websites, weblogs and emails of artists, authors, poets etc. will still be readable in a couple of years. This is a valid and important question, and the DAVID Expertise Centre is answering it by establishing which forms of action can and must be taken. The pilot projects and ‘best practices’ that the DAVID project developed between 2000 and 2003 have already shown that preservation is possible. These pilot projects must now be extended and adapted to new developments (such as weblogs, which were not an issue in 2002) before dissemination to a wider audience.

The DAVID Expertise Centre has the necessary experience at its disposal and wants to develop it further, now specifically aiming at the cultural heritage sector. The main goal of eDAVID is the broader distribution of tools, instruments, XML-schemas and practical recommendations, alongside implementation support. To identify the specific needs of the new target group (see below), eDAVID will conduct a pilot-study and examine some initial test cases from the cultural heritage sector. This will result in a practical manual for the creators of weblogs and websites. The manual will assist those who wish to prepare and manage digital records from the point of creation through to long-term storage.

Furthermore, the DAVID Expertise Centre will develop a prototype depot for records such as emails, weblogs and websites. A digital depot can provide the necessary facilities for secure storage and, if necessary, conversion or migration, to carry digital records forwards through time. The depot will provide an appropriate infrastructure for digital longevity and sustained quality by, for example, systematic conversions to standard and open formats. A digital depot prototype will be developed that will help determine the overall functional and programming requirements. This information is very important. In the future, digital objects will be selected and submitted to a depot for long term preservation; the functionality required of such a depot must be understood so that the quality requirements for managing digital heritage objects can be met.

The project is cooperating with a number of international institutions that already have experience in this area. eDAVID has good contacts with these international colleagues and confers with them on a regular basis. There is also a legal component to the depot project. Research in this area will be carried out by external legal experts under instruction from eDAVID.

Managing and preserving digital cultural heritage can involve a range of stakeholders, including not only the initial content creator (e.g. the developer of a website, the writer of an email, or the owner of a weblog), but also other content contributors (for example, third parties on a webforum or a weblog, or participants in a email dialogue). Copyright law provides these parties with extensive rights that complicate archiving and subsequent availability of the objects. However, many potential problems may be prevented relatively easily by observing certain rules at the moment of creation and by making firm agreements with all involved. The eDAVID project will therefore create a number of model agreements for these purposes during the course of the project.
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Intended outcomes and results

1. Persons, institutions and associations will be able to produce digital material in a way that facilitates sustainable preservation.
2. Persons, institutions and associations will know how to preserve and archive digital objects (e.g. emails); if they are not able to do this, they will know which services can take care of it for them.
3. Cost reductions. This project also aims to reduce costs: the long(er) term preservation of digital objects will be less expensive as a result of the project's proposed interventions and guidelines to address the problems caused by dependency on ageing hardware and software.
4. Persons, institutions and associations will become familiar with technical and quality standards.
5. Increased awareness of the importance of open standards.


At the end of the first phase (beginning of 2007)
1. The cultural heritage sector will have an overview of the legal context, particularly concerning issues of copyright and protection of privacy.
2. Moreover, the sector will have model agreements at its disposal with regards to the legal issues of copyright and protection of privacy.
3. From a ‘preservation’ perspective, the functional requirements for a digital heritage depot will have been identified. As the functionality of such a depot must be determined prior to the transfer of materials, identifying the functional requirements of a digital heritage repository is one of the most important research goals of this first phase of the project.
4. Appropriate formats and XML-schemas will be identified for a number of digital heritage objects. Cultural heritage experts will know how to create digital objects in a manner that facilitates their preservation. Persons, institutions and associations will also know how to develop websites and weblogs in a way that facilitates preservation or transfer to museums, libraries or archives at a later date.

In general, the intended result is a practical manual that will be of particular use to developers of weblogs and websites.
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Target group
Amongst the target group are all organisations, associations, authors, artists and private individuals who make an important contribution to the Flemish cultural life and who communicate through websites, weblogs and e-mail.

Examples are:
- cultural centres,
- cultural projects and events for which a website or weblog is developed,
- authors and artists who eventually want to deposit their email correspondence in a library, museum or archive,
- artists who create 'Internet Art', and
- Flemish government institutions and services.

Immediate precautionary measures and actions should be taken if websites or weblogs are to be preserved in the near or distant future. The project's target group is not therefore limited to curators or keepers of cultural heritage. The primary target group comprises anyone who develops a website or a weblog and wishes it to be sustainable, including artists, organisations, companies, politicians and newspapers.
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