Friday, January 14, 2011

Digital forensics

A CLIR report on digital forensics for born digital collections is out. Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum,Richard Ovenden,Gabriela Redwine with research assistance from Rachel Donahue.

The report makes a case for applying digital forensics, an applied field originating in law enforcement,computer security, and national defense, to the archives and curatorial community since libraries, special collections, etc. increasingly receive
computer storage media (and sometimes entire computers) as part of their acquisitions of "papers" from artists, writers, musicians, etc. Upwards of 90 percent of the records (i.e. personal and corporate "papers") being created today are born digital (Dow 2009, xi).

Here's a quote from the introduction: "Digital forensics therefore offers archivists, as well as an archive’s patrons, new tools, new methodologies, and new capabilities. Yet as even this brief description must suggest, digital forensics does not affect archivists’ practices solely at the level of procedures and tools. Its methods and outcomes raise important legal, ethical, and hermeneutical questions about the nature of the cultural record, the boundaries between public and private knowledge, and the roles and responsibilities of donor, archivist, and the public in a new technological era."

This report cites an earlier one that sounds good, too. "The starting place for any cultural heritage professional interested in matters of forensics, data recovery, and storage formats is a 1999 JISC/NIPO study coauthored by Seamus Ross and Ann Gow
and entitled Digital Archaeology: Rescuing Neglected and Damaged Data Resources. Although more than a decade old, the report remains invaluable."

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