15 May 2013
Screening the Future 2013
Will Prentice, Head of Technical Services, Sound & Vision, writes:
Last week I attended the PrestoCentre Screening the Future conference, held at Tate Modern in London. In contrast to many conferences in the audiovisual archiving world, the focus was very much on preservation, as opposed to access, discoverability, linked data and all the rest. Also of note was the broad variety of different perspectives represented in both speakers and delegates. The spectrum ranged from not-for-profit collection holders at one end, to purely commercial
digitisation and storage service providers at the other, with specialist commentators and different forms of commercial archives somewhere in the middle.
Not surprisingly, collection holders tended to focus on complex problems, while vendors talked confidently of solutions. Though this didn’t lead to the two sides leaping into each other’s’ arms (so far as I saw, anyway), it did set the scene for a lot of useful discussion on and off the stage. An archive can outsource tasks but it can’t outsource responsibility for a collection, so at the centre of any such relationship is trust. David Giaretta, Director of APARSEN and chair of the panel which produced the hugely influential OAIS Reference Model for digital preservation, discussed the psychology of preservation, and of trust and the need for auditors, helpfully mentioning that the auditors themselves need auditing.
Two personal highlights: Mark Schubin addressed the question “What needs to be preserved?” with a fascinating talk exploring how the perceptions and expectations of opera audiences have been conditioned by evolving technology and collecting policies. His slides are available here. Kara van Malssen from Audiovisual Preservation Solutions described the very dramatic rescue operation to save the Eyebeam art and technology centre in Manhattan after it was flooded by hurricane Sandy. In addition to giving a great overview of the disaster recovery process, she made a compelling argument for the need to see all AV digital preservation as a race against an encroaching flood, and described work in progress which will help quantify the Cost Of Inaction.