Thank you for posting this question and getting the conversation going here, Euan!
The Software Preservation Network (SPN) project applied for a grant in June and will be notified in September. Regardless of whether funding is awarded, the plan is to survey the LAM community on software preservation use cases, narrow in on categories of software titles that should be prioritized in terms of collection and advocacy, and identify organizations interested in particpating as network partners.
After reading the SPN premis below:
How many of the preservationists on this list are interested in participating, and feel their organization would be interested in participating, in a software preservation network?
What do you feel represents the biggest obstacles to organizational participation/commitment in a software preservation network?
Do you foresee a distributed software preservation effort effecting your archival practice? If so, how?
The SPN premis:
Much of our nation’s digital heritage is at risk due to file format obsolescence. Archival literature has emphasized documentation strategy or significant properties as the most viable approaches to preserving content stored in proprietary file formats. However, with the combined efforts of collecting organizations, developers of virtualization and emulation-as-a-service (V/EaaS) platforms, archivists and other information professionals are beginning to seriously consider software preservation as a core practice of digital preservation.
Software preservation is best accomplished through a network, in part, because the software we aim to preserve represents a network of machines, people and processes, and in part because the breadth of software titles required to faciltiate preservation and access of exisiting born-ditial holdings is to large for any one insitution to tackle. Software Preservation Network (SPN) activities could ultimately include collaboration on software collection, preservation strategies for binaries and source code, descriptive schemas for software, and preservation planning for cloud-based subscription software/SaaS. Furthermore, SPN could combine the work of V/EaaS researcher-practitioners with a distributed preservation model bolstered by formal agreements and relationships between software companies, member repositories, and federal agencies.
Please contact us with questions, comments, use cases and suggestions.
Jessica Meyerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Zach Vowell <email@example.com>