Archivematica at the City of Vancouver Archives

The City of Vancouver Archives has been contributing to the development of the Archivematica digital preservation system for the past several years and we have just started using the 0.8 alpha release for production. This is an overview of why we got involved and where we are now.


Digital Forensics for Archivists

The BitCurator project held a meeting last weekend at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). There are a couple of blog posts elsewhere that may be of interest.

On the MITH blog, Matthew Kirschenbaum gives a summary of the meeting, and on the City of Vancouver Archives blog, Courtney Mumma has written an overview of archival digital forensics and BitCurator.


Open Source Committe meeting and Demo Session at AMIA Conference, November 18

The AMIA Open Source Committee blasts into the 2011 conference with actual organization! We're all so busy doing our own projects that bringing them together in one place to discuss possibilities can sometime (ahem) lag. We aim to fix that with an ambitious meeting and demo session at the 2011 AMIA Conference:

Friday, November 18th
5:30 to 6:30 pm
Location announced at conference registration


  • A quick Open Source Committee meeting (10 minutes)
  • Demo Session on open source projects led by Johan Oomen and Dave Rice (30-40 minutes)
  • CollectiveAccess user group meeting lead by Kara van Malssen (20 minutes but may go longer as needed)

We want your projects for the demo session, so if you can provide a little show-and-tell we'll slot you in. Just email Johan with a few words about the project. You can also just leave a comment here.


CollectiveAccess building steam?

Last year I had the great pleasure of working on a project with Karan Sheldon at Northeast Historic Film, which required migrating an old "flat" film database into CollectiveAccess. Since then I've caught wind of several other moving image archives either using CollectiveAccess or investigating the possibility. If a number of people are intending to use or further develop this tool for moving images, it seems like a perfect opportunity for collaboration. This post is a call for that.

Here's a summary of what CollectiveAccess does from my (somewhat limited) experience with it. I'll refer to it as CA in the rest of this post for short...

  • Provides a very clean cataloging interface through any web browser.
  • Enables the cataloger to define collections, locations, and entities, and relate assets to them.


I wanted to give a shout out to MPlayer as an extremely useful tool for the display and presentation of diverse sets of digital audiovisual media. The project just past 10 years of active development last month. Similar to VLC, MPlayer is offers very comprehensive playback support for a broad range of audiovisual container formats and codecs.

MPlayer's homepage is at http://www.mplayerhq.hu

Although MPlayer is multiplatform command line application there are several user-friendly GUI applications based on MPlayer. My current favorite (Mac only) is http://mplayerosx.sttz.ch/ which offers features such as selectable tracks, playback statistics on CPU, adjustments to track delay (to fix sync), and a broad set of controls for audio/visual equalization, display of aspect ratios, frames rates, etc. Other GUI interfaces of MPlayer include MPUI-hcb and SMPlayer (for Windows).


The promise and peril of open source

I think we've moved beyond arguments over "open source versus commercial software." Open source adherents used to be seen by some people as digital hippies or anti-corporate anarchists. Which in some cases might even be true, but! We now see convincing evidence that open source software can be as good as or better than proprietary products. And since successful open source projects are the focus of a large and committed community, they are likely to be more sustainable too.

Note that I said "successful open source projects" in the above sentence. In this category I would nominate Linux, ffmpeg, and Drupal. But there are many more open source projects that have not been embraced by a large enough community to reach critical mass. And critical mass, defined here as "reaching a large global community of enthusiastic users," is the thing that drives sustainability.


Welcome to the Open Source Archiving Blog

Discussions at the 2009 AMIA Conference made clear a broad interest and need for a new Open Source group within AMIA. As many of us grapple with the demands of the digital age and seek to rework analog workflows to digital environments, free and open source software has become more mature, participatory, and appealing. But the field remains confusing and much development and collaboration work remains to be done. Various archivists have implemented tools and workflows that might be effective in other places. Software developers outside of AMIA are working on systems and tools we need to know about. And we think our expertise in moving image archival practice could be very useful to software developers. The purpose of this weblog is to facilitate publishing of solutions and questions, and to encourage collaboration and sharing of software and best practices in using it.