Digital preservation has long been more art than science, but that has been changing. Although you will still find much hand waving on the topic, someone who transcends this with a fundamentally quantitative approach is David Rosenthal, one of the instigators of LOCKSS.
Rosenthal’s plenary at the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Spring Task Force meeting (April 2009, Minneapolis) – How Are We Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents? – described by Cliff Lynch as “absolutely extraordinary”, is a good place to start finding out about his approach to digital preservation.
Summary: it’s not about preserving individual digital objects but about networks of connected online objects, and the problems are scale, costs and rights.
The presentation appears on Rosenthal’s blog, which is also worth exploring for its occasional gems, and you’ll discover links to those as you progress through the talk.
In the KeepIt project we are looking for those people who can extend the reach of digital preservation practice by bringing new insights that can make a difference. I’ve certainly been recommending Rosenthal to project colleagues as just such a person to follow.