how does open-source software impact you? and info on our August meeting

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Devon Olson

Aug 6, 2020, 12:55:42 PM8/6/20
to Information Maintainers, Jordan Hale
Hello everyone!

This month our guest speaker will be Ross Spencer, who will be joining us to discuss working within and maintaining decentralized, small-group systems and development infrastructures in different organizational and national contexts. Ross was originally scheduled to visit with us in June, which is why this info may look familiar :)

To get us thinking for this meeting, I thought I'd ask you all to share stories within the list about digital preservation, open-source software, and your own practice:
  • What are examples of open-source software that have impacted your information maintenance practice?
  • Are there projects that need rescuing?
  • What gaps do we need to fill with new software?
  • What gaps exist in your own knowledge of this sphere? Or what do you think more people need to know about open source software?
These questions are a bit vague, partially because I am still learning about this area of practice myself. I encourage all of my fellows new to open source software to crack open Nadia Egbahl's excellent open-access text: "Roads and Bridges: the unseen labor behind our digital infrastructure". While not preservation-specific, it provides an invaluable primer on digital infrastructure (including the role of open-source software and the folks who build it), complete with historical context.

Also, here is Ross' bio, kindly provided by Ross himself:

Ross Spencer has a ten year background in digital preservation, and an off, and now on-again relationship with professional software development. Having spent the last decade putting together bespoke tooling (all open source) for Archives New Zealand, and The National Archives, UK, in pursuit of looking after the archival record. Ross now works for Artefactual Systems Inc. applying some of the knowledge gained in that time to the open source Archivematica system and the various Artefactual clients. Ross now resides in Canada and has a keen interest in staying indoors (but is looking forward to being able to go out again soon along with everybody else). You can find out more about Ross' work via the various links on his blog

And the meeting info for the 21st:

August 21st at 8am PST / 9am MST / 10am CST / 11am EST / 3pm GMT
Description: Meeting ID: 817 9020 0032 One tap mobile +13462487799,,81790200032# US (Houston) +12532158782,,81790200032# US (Tacoma) Dial by your location +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 646 558 8656 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown) Meeting ID: 817 9020 0032 Find your local number:

Yours, as always, in maintenance,
Information Maintainers Co-Facilitator

Ross Spencer

Aug 19, 2020, 12:00:44 PM8/19/20
to Information Maintainers
Tying two threads together, Jordan's XKCD link today I agree is perfect! 

As is Roads and Bridges. Thank you so much for that link Devon. I read it Monday evening for the first time. It's such a thorough depiction of our work. 

It reminds me, that I should note that I do work professionally as an open source maintainer currently but that provider also has a commercial interest. Eghbal touches upon some of those tensions, and so I might only be able to talk indirectly about some of my work there Friday. Those interested though might be interested in this paper colleagues and I put together for the digital preservation conference iPRES back in 2019.

Devon asks what examples of open source software have impacted your information maintenance practice. It is tempting to say that there such an intersection with my field of digital preservation and open source. At one point in time, once you have access to digital objects and their metadata there is so much we can do with the tools made available through the generosity of individuals and organisations who invest their time and skill. But there is also a lot of propriety-ness to deal with - the record management systems that support the living record - the tools used to create those records too. I can't help but feel that the amount we open-source in the field is directly to tackle the limitations of closed source in earlier stages in that life-cycle. 

And I am also interested in that idea of projects that need rescuing! Almost certainly?! I have one use-case to touch upon Friday, but there must be some other great examples out there. And I am interested in asking that question too: How much are we currently creating tooling that will one day need rescuing and what can we do to prevent that? 

Looking forward to seeing everyone Friday. 
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