WhyPres? Blog by Valene Jouvet

Welcome to the iPRES 2019 WhyPres series: testimonials and reflection from members of the digital preservation community regarding their iPRES participation. This blog was written for you by Valene Jouvet, Disc Imaging Technician at The British Library.

Setting the Scene
In September of last year, I was very fortunate to attend the 15th anniversary of IPRES in Boston. I was able to attend the event as Portico sponsored me to present the digital preservation card game “Obsolescence” that I co-created and illustrated. I will discuss that later, but first let me tell you about the event itself.

Fortune Teller Illustration, Obsolescence Game, 2018

My thoughts of iPRES as a First Timer
The theme of this year’s conference was “Where Art and Science Meet – The Art In the Science & The Science In the Art of Digital Preservation”, which sounded perfect for an artistic Disc Imaging Technician like me. I’ll admit though, that before I got there I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was told by my colleagues that the event would be very enlightening, but as I had only been in digital preservation for a year at this time, part of me was worried that the presentations would be very technical and filled with acronyms and jargon that I hadn’t got my head around yet. What I found, was much more exciting than anything I had expected. I found that digital preservation applies to everything from art installations to virtual reality. I found that I am a member of a vibrant and diverse international community filled with people from a variety of disciplines. All of us facing the same challenges and eager to collaborate and share ideas to work together in achieving one goal: digital preservation.

During the breaks, Credit: Martha Stewart

A Few Highlights
On day one I attended the workshop: Digital Curation Workflows Based on Open-Source Software. In this workshop, Christopher Lee presented his OSSArcFlow project, which worked to optimise workflows and improve an institutions capacity to curate born digital content. Each attendee was asked to describe their workflow and discuss them in groups. This led to a lively and productive session that perfectly embodied the collaborative spirit of IPRES.

The evening receptions at MIT and Harvard Art museum were another highlight. The ‘’Night at the Museum’’ was like nothing I had experienced before; I was in a museum after hours, networking with senior figures from around the world in digital preservation, all while standing just a few feet from an original Van Gogh.

Colin Armstrong and myself at the MIT reception, IPRES 2018

On day two I discovered the world of digital art preservation. In the morning Eve Blau explained the use of digital archives in design. This was followed by a fascinating talk: Opening the museum’s gates to pirates: Hacking for the sake of digital art preservation, presented by Morgane Stricot. This explained how hackers were required to crack abandoned proprietary software to make the unreadable readable. A problem all of us face with the danger of obsolescence.

The personal highlight for me was in the games room, where I had the chance to present the game I co-created with my colleague Colin Armstrong and showcase the original artwork used for the twenty-two illustrations. In the game, you play as a digital preservation officer working against the ticking time bomb of obsolescence. It was fantastic to see the positive feedback for our work and the games room was lots of fun, allowing everybody to see digital preservation through a different lens.

Micky Lindlar and another attendant enjoying the game on Wednesday

In a Nutshell
IPRES was a fantastic experience. It was dynamic thanks to its great diversity of topics and speakers. There was a lot to do thanks to the workshops, five-minute lightning talks, presentations and games room. The networking events in the evening were outstanding and I learned a great deal from this event I would love to go again.

Valene Jouvet
Disc Imaging Technician at The British Library