Possible book on digital preservation tools

Update: It’s clear from the small response that the necessary level of interest isn’t there. Oh, well, that’s what testing the waters is for.

I’m getting the urge to write another book, going the crowdfunding route which has worked twice for me and my readers. My earlier Files that Last got good responses, though the “digital preservation for everygeek” audience proved not to be huge. Tomorrow’s Songs Today, a non-tech book, got more recognition and additional confirmation that book crowdfunding works. This time I’m aiming squarely at the institutions that engage in preservation — libraries, archives, and academic institutions — and proposing a reference on the software tools for preservation. The series I’ve been running on file identification tools was an initial exploration of the idea.

In the book, I’ll significantly expand these articles as well as covering a broader scope. Areas to cover will include:

  • File identification
  • Metadata formats
  • Detection of problems in files
  • Provenance management
  • The OAIS reference model
  • Repository creation and management
  • Keeping obsolescent formats usable

I’ll crowdfund this through IndieGoGo, so that I can gauge whether there’s sufficient interest and have some money to pay for my time up front. Premiums will include copies of the e-book and print copies, and possibly group licenses at the higher levels. I’ll engage peer review as much as possible, so review rights would be part of the perks. This would be a goal-or-nothing project; if there isn’t enough interest, it won’t cost the people who pledged.

My record of successful delivery on crowdfunding projects is unbroken. While I can never guarantee against the unforeseen, you can be confident I’ll carry my promises through if I can.

For those who don’t already know me, I was a software engineer for eight years at the Harvard Library and wrote most of the code for JHOVE, a file validation and metadata extraction tool which is still used. I received a grant from the SPRUCE project to enhance FITS, an open-source application for file identification.

This post is the first test of interest. Please comment here or through other channels if you think I should go ahead with a campaign.

4 responses to “Possible book on digital preservation tools

  1. I appreciate your posts and have learned a lot from them. You certainly have a lot of knowledge about the topic. If you do a book, I hope there is an online version; I find a reference tool more useful when I am working on things from different locations.

    • This will be primarily an e-book, with a limited print edition (or print on demand), so you’d have access to it from anywhere you can get online.

  2. I see I’m late to comment on your idea, but I had read it earlier and wanted to share a thought. A book on the topics you mention could be used to refer to from existing wikis on digital preservation tools and techniques, but as Chris notes the format of a book may not work best in practice.

    What if you started a campaign to crowdfund time to edit and enrich existing resources like Coptr? Perhaps the target can be lowered so it’s easier to reach. Plus the result of your work is accessible as you’re working. The way to work is different and so would the end result be. It’s just a thought, I don’t know if this was done before or how it might go.

  3. I think the idea is good. I work on digital preservation as a file format expert. I have got so many interesting informations from your posts.