Software Activation, DRM, and Implications for Digital Preservation

It's time again for another installment in my ongoing audio encoding project saga. For some time now I have been on the verge of the next phase of the project, which involves encoding the remaining analog sound objects in my collection, specifically cassette tapes and vinyl records. Procrastination, combined with a serious dose of being busy with other things, has delayed my progress on this phase of the project, but one technical aspect has also proved crucial.

Bringing Records to the Users

I've volunteered at the local National Archives branch for over a year now. Over this time I have gained the acute impression of lament over the dwindling number of researchers and members of the public who make the trip out to the archives to do research. Indeed, it is not uncommon for me to enter a virtually empty research room during my Thursday afternoon visits.

What is seldom spoken of, but is vitally central to the issue, is the instant information gratification that the general populace receives from their increasingly ubiquitous internet connections. The reams of information available through Google, or the convenience of accessing from home (instead of for free at the archives), keeps them at home and only adds insult to the injury of fewer patrons.

Feeling Out Finding Aids

I've now spent five afternoons over the last five weeks volunteering my time at the local NARA branch. The bulk of my work has focused on developing user-friendly finding aids for patron use. For the benefit of my memory, here's a recap of some of the things I have done in creating these items.