Leontien Talboom (UCL) - 2018-19 Students

Re-envisioning access for the digital preservation community: challenges, opportunities and recommendations

Digital material is not new and has been preserved for a couple of decades now. With a growing digital preservation community, and a growing number of practitioners identifying as doing something digital, there is an understanding that this material is here to stay. More and more institutions are publishing digital strategies or creating networks focusing on digital material. However, when looking at this in practice there seems to be a disconnect between what is being stated within these networks and strategies and what is being made accessible to the public.
This thesis will explore this disconnect by first understanding how the digital preservation community has been providing access to this material and how they are envisioning it in the future. This exploration surfaces both a) how digital material can no longer be seen as separate from the infrastructure that ensures its materiality and b) how the provision of access is not just a technological question, but also a social, legal and ethical one.
This thesis will also seek to explore the ways in which those who identify as digital preservation practitioners articulate their role and responsibilities. It will do so by drawing on relevant literature and gaining perspectives from practitioners and other relevant participants through in-depth interviews. Building from this exploration, this thesis will offer recommendations for how this practice can move forward in negotiating the provision of access to digital material in the online public space of the internet.

Primary supervisor: Antonis Bikakis, UCL
Secondary supervisor: Jenny Bunn, The National Archives

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