Bitcurator – Forensics for Collecting Institutions part 1

We’ve been busy the past few months.  Take the blog silence for the quiet of busy beavers rather than the absence of activity!

As noted in the workflow diagrams, one of the tools that we are assessing both in terms of functionality and how it might fit into our workflows is BitCurator.  The BitCurator Team has lot of information on their project and wiki pages that you should read to keep current on this Mellon funded project.

BC sticker

BitCurator Project sticker

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photo of the BitCurator in a Box. Includes two write-blockers, cables and cords, and BitCurator program on a USB drive.

BitCurator Project is an open-source digital forensics environment in which collecting institutions can create and analyze forensic disk images of digital content, whether from a file server or from media.  Read this page on the BitCurator website for more specifics on the projects and the tools incorporated into the environment.

We’ve been testing versions of the BitCurator tools since version 3.0.  Happily, the project and team have been doing great work with adding tools, functionality, GUI, and reporting capabilities.  BitCurator 0.7.4 was released on February 2, 2014 and is the current version we are assessing.

As an activity of the Digital Sustainability Lab in the Libraries, there is input into the assessment from both the Institute Archives and Special Collections staff and from the Digital Curation and Preservation staff in the MIT Libraries.

The BitCurator team is fantastic and are very responsive to feedback and questions regarding how to use and implement BitCurator in your digital curation workflow.  For instance, at the recent DigCCurr Institute, CurateGear presentations it came up that there was a BitCurator in a Box that can be borrowed for formal assessment purposes.  We asked and after the most current release at that time we were mailed the box.  Along with a formal testing plan and required questions/ answers to return to the BitCurator Team, was a jumpdrive with the BitCurator install files and two write-blockers with accompanying cables and cords. It is all packed into a Pelican case for shock absorption and a cool factor.

The next blog post on this topic will frame our assessment and the issues and considerations that we are addressing.

 

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Integrating Tools into our Process and Workflows

In the last blog post, I described the process and data flow for digital archives using the PAIMAS and OAIS roles, responsibilities, and a few of the functions.  Since that diagram, I have received feedback from MIT colleagues and have over-laid onto it two important considerations.  First, how the storage spaces for metadata and digital objects fit into the process, and second where some of the software tools we are considering will fit into the processes. [version updated on 11/20/14]

Proposed workflow showing human, tool, and storage interactions.

Proposed workflow showing human, tool, and storage interactions.

The software tools that are called out in the diagram are:

  • ArchivesSpace MIT Libraries is a Charter Member of ArchivesSpace, the successor archives management tool for institutions using Archvists’ Toolkit.
  • Archivematica  MIT Libraries is evaluating and assessing how this digital preservation system can be used within the Institute Archives and Special Collections for physical control and performing preservation functions and activities.  [note: Archivematica is not a storage repository.]
  • BitCurator Project  We are looking at the on-going research and beta products from the BitCurator Project using open source forensic tools to create a curator-friendly GUI interface for examining forensic disk images in order to triage incoming digital archival material.
  • AtoM  Access to Memory tool, created by Artefactual, is a display and dissemination package for digital content and its description that links with digital files processed through Archivematica.

The most obvious take-away from the compilation diagram is that the tools will be used in multiple parts of the workflow and this will often be done in an iterative process. We will be assessing the human/tool work chain over the next few months as experiments within MIT Libraries’ newly established Digital Sustainability Lab.  The lab is a collaboration between the Curation and Preservation Services unit, led by Nancy Y. McGovern and the Institute Archives and Special Collections unit, led by Tom Rosko.

Stay tuned!

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Visualizing PAIMAS and OAIS

PAIMAS OAIS flowPart of the work with implementing a digital archives program is being transparent within the organization and also to external stakeholders. This diagram attempts to convey the PAIMAS and OAIS functions and responsibilities of the Producer and the Archives.  In this case, I am focused on the tasks with which the Institute Archives and Special Collections department are primarily engaged.

My goal with this diagram is to illustrate the relationships, obligations, and responsibilities between the Producer and the Archives at Ingest.  Concluding the data flow through to archival storage and generate dissemination packages helps to show the full picture.

Those familiar with the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) and the Producer-Archives Interface Methodology Abstract Standard (PAIMAS) will note that not all of the OAIS functional areas are included. Notably missing are Common Services, Administration, and Preservation Planning as fully developed entities.  These functions at MIT Libraries are primarily managed and coordinated by the Curation and Preservation Services department, headed by Nancy Y. McGovern.

This diagram builds on and is a top-level overlay to the workflow diagrams posted previously to this blog.

 

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