Digital Persistence Meeting

A meeting concerning  digital persistence was held in Tokyo on November 16 2003 at the invitation of  Dr. Alexander Pasko Department of Digital Media Science , graduate school of computer and Information Sciences of Hosei University.   Dr. Lew Lancaster, Professor Emeritus, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley ; Dr. Kunii Tosiyasu L. Kunii, Dr.Sc., Fellow of IEEE, Professor and Director, IT Institute, Kanazawa Institute of Technology ; Dr Pasko, and Prof. Carl Vilbrandt, BA., MFA San Francisco Art Institute San Francisco, California; were all scheduled to give a presentations based on the most recent papers, proposals, reports and positions taken concerning the problems associated with digital persistence.  Dr. Lew Lancaster was the keynote speaker concerning the current events assocated with digital publishing and digital preservation.  Unfortunately Dr. Kunii could not attend the meeting and unfortunately his presentation on his general theory of adjunction spaces and its application to the merging of disparate data bases was not able to be given and that was a great disappointment for all.

Dr. Lew Lancaster began the meeting by giving a presentation that included a report on the current state of work on an digital publishing pilot project that was just completed the digital publishing of its first journal paper on the 3rd century collection of Iranian seals in collaboration with the California Digital Library (CDL).  Dr. Lancaster outlined the goals and the reasons behind the project and the critical need to solve the digital preservation problem associated with digital publishing.  Dr. Lancaster then outlined research in digital preservation methods,  that included several interesting academic scientific questions.  The question of how to define dynamic objects that change over time and the interoperability of data bases, work that Dr Kunii is currently engaged in and  the interfacing  Z3950 meta data standard to dynamic objects that change over time.   Dr. Lancaster stated that recent testing of the mapping of the Z3950 standard to other meta data / information indexing systems has shown some mixed results, but is proving to be for now a workable solution.  Dr. Lancaster revealed the reasons behind the digital publishing pilot project work. It seems that University's of California UC have come to realize that the UC professors are paid and their research is supported by UC.  The UC professors then submit there findings to a journal and give the rights to a publisher who then sells the results of the UC professors work paid for by UC to the UC library's state wide system. The cost to UC for just one journal is 30K per year.  Therefore Digital Publishing of online journals by UC will be soon forth coming saving the UC library system the costs associated with paper publishing.  Hence the digital preservation pilot project to implement digital preservation standards.  The CDL will be responsible to digital preserve the digital published papers.  It is interesting to note that only flat ASCII text and JPG images can be preserved by CDL.  The HTML links and other functions must be stripped from the digital content before submission to the CDL for containment in "dark" storage at their super computer center.

Dr. Pasko and Prof. Vilbrandt gave a presentation on their collaborative work with Frep.  The presentation started with and overview of the digital preservation / persistence problems that included a brief review of various digital preservation methods that are currently being employed with mixed results and have been found in general not a reasonable solution to the digital preservation problem. A brief description of previous digital preservation work on the temples in the Aizu region was given followed by a brief description of Frep as a solution to digital persistence problem.  Examples of Frep ability to describe a object in time were shown of Frep's application to an augmented sculpture paper.  General technical specifications were given for the construction of a digital preservation system that included self sustaining digital devices, device drivers, preservation application interface and a digital preservation language based on Frep we call Echo.  There was a brief pause for technical questions and answers. The propose digital preservation system specifications was generally accepted by all, pending further details. The presentation continued with a brief presentation concerning the social aspects of the problems surrounding the current and future digital persistence problems that described the social discontinuities created by the use of digital materials that do not provide the physical verification for authenticity of digital data and thus undermining current social structures creating legal instability and financial disruptions. It was asserted that the creation of a digital preservation object as specified previously discussed that includes write once read many storage media managed by trusted repositories would give digital materials the physical embodiment and thus the legal authority on which the foundation of our future digital society will stand.  Accordingly as a societal foundation,  an ethical licenses agreement called the greater good public licenses agreement has been developed and set forth under which the proposed research development and use of  digital preservation object by the CAL of the University of Aizu for numerous reasons of a critical and practical nature, some of which were later discussed in greater detail at a round table discussion.   

The meeting broke into a round table discussion concerning the presentation on digital publishing and problems of digital preservation.  Dr. Lancaster started the discussion by acknowledging the value of collaborative Frep research work  as critical step to the development of digital preservation object.  Dr. Lancaster then proposed that Prof. Pasko and Vilbrandt join his collaborative effort in digital preservation research with University of California, Berkeley, California Digital Library  and Dr. James Goodwin in association with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Cultural VR Lab, that was founded in 1998 by Prof. Bernard Frischer.  Dr. Lancaster outlined the current digital preservation tasks in question surrounding the digital publication and preservation of the Virtual Heritage's recently completed work on the Roman Forum.  The Roman Forum work was done at the cost of 2 million dollars and took five years to complete.  Dr. Lancaster has the responsibility of digital publishing and preserving the work. Dr. Lancaster currently estimates the life span of this work is 7 years or less depending on the events of technical change that are to complex to predict.   At the cost of 2 million dollars taking 5 years create, the life expectancy of 7 years or less is  best described as short, brutal and nasty. This fact and the fact that CDL can only digital preserve ASCII text and JPG images underscores the urgency of the proposed digital persistence research the topic of this meeting. 

Dr. Lancaster's proposal of collaboration with UCLA's Cultural VR Lab and California Digital Library on such important and interesting project was accepted under the condition that all of the digital preservation work done by the Computer Arts Lab of University of Aizu will be done under digital and academic freedom, human rights and environmental sustainability the three provisions of the Greater Good Public Licenses agreement that has taken over three years to create.  Dr. Lancaster will inform the other members involved in the proposed digital persistence research project, that at least part of the research will be under an ethical license agreement. 

Prof. Vilbrandt presented Dr. Lancaster with a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) proposal for the digital preservation of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, Kizhi Island, Karelia, Russia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site:   We had planned to use the digital preservation model of the cathedral as the first digital preservation test.  Both Prof. Pasko,  Prof. Vilbrandt and their families have made personal commitments to collaborate on preservation of this famous and important Russian wooden monument.

Prof. Pasko and Vilbrandt have agreed with Dr. Lancaster that the next step is to contact Dr. James Goodwin who will coordinate our research efforts with the Virtual Heritage Labs and request from him some samples of  data from the Roman Forum work that can be made into Frep objects.  The next step would be develop and conduct a digital persistence test with this sample data.  Dr. Lancaster stated he would try to arrange support for such a test. 

Two journal papers a JSPS proposal for funding and the digital preservation position paper in work for the CIDOC digital preservation committee  that were collectively presented by Prof. Pasko and Vilbrandt at the meeting and papers by Dr. Lancaster will provide papers and reports covering the content his presentations, that will be submitted to the University of Aizu's library included to be digitally published as the proceedings of this Digital Persistence Meeting in the form a technical report.