DPE: Digital Preservation Challenge

The First Digital Preservation Challenge

The winner of the First Digital Preservation Challenge was Miguel Ferreira University of Minho, Portugal

"The problems proposed in the Challenge made me realize how diverse preservation scenarios can be and how difficult it is to find good sources information, tools and services for carrying out preservation interventions. The challenge also made me realize how specific and time-consuming preservation interventions can be and how difficult is to find good and general solutions applicable to all sorts of preservation contexts." Miguel Ferreira

The Digital Preservation Challenge aims to promote innovation at all levels from students to researchers, and provide an insight into the range of digital preservation risks currently being faced by international research and practitioner communities. DigitalPreservationEurope's (DPE) 1st Digital Preservation Challenge ran from 25 May to 15 July 2007.

The challenge invited participants to overcome the barriers hindering access to six digital objects. Each object was accompanied by a scenario based on a real-life situation. These scenarios were intended to make the challenge more accessible to participants from all backgrounds while not trivialising the serious nature of the digital preservation challenges facing society. Submissions were encouraged from postgraduate and undergraduate students in the computing science and engineering disciplines.

Submissions to the 1st Digital Preservation Challenge were assessed by a panel of international digital preservation experts and practitioners. An incremental scoring method was developed by the panel to emphasise the value of thoroughness and high-quality documentation of the processes used to render all the object rather than the overall outcome itself.

The first digital preservation challenge attracted numerous high-quality submissions and our first prize winner, Miguel Ferreira University of Minho, Portugal, successfully managed to solve all six sections of the challenge. A formal announcement of the winners and an overview of the submissions was presented at ECDL in Budapest, Hungary on 18 September 2007.

Questions or comments should be sent to challenge@digitalpreservationeurope.eu

Scenarios for the First Digital Preservation Challenge

File Format Identification

Scenario 1

You have met someone online and instant messaging has been your only form of contact. You agree to meet and your friend sends you a sound file using instant messaging to provide you with the details of where and when this meeting will occur. Unfortunately your computer crashes before the file transfer is complete and most of your hard drive is destroyed. You find the sound file that was being transferred in a temporary folder but all of the contact information you had for your friend is lost. The only way you can contact your friend again is to recover this file and meet them in person as agreed - can you do it?

Task

Your task is to:

  1. Identify the file format.
  2. Fix its header.
  3. Show that you are able to play/decode the file by stating when and where the meeting should take place.
  4. Decide if the processing of such files could be automated and if so whether this processing would also be applicable for hundreds of files.
  5. Explain why the file format chosen was appropriate or inappropriate for the task of sending this information online.
  6. If you decide the file format was inappropriate explain which format would have been more suitable.

Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on the progress participants make in completing the tasks outlined above and also on the thorough description of the steps taken to complete each task.

Proprietary File Format

Scenario 2

A friend contacts you asking for your help to access two files which she has been given by her PhD supervisor. She urgently needs to access these files so that she can complete her dissertation. She has been unable to open the files as they appear to have been created using a proprietary format that is not recognised by her operating system. She tried to contact her supervisor for additional information but unfortunately her supervisor is attending a conference and is not contactable for a week. Your friend needs these files before then to meet her deadline - can you help her?

Task

Your task is to:

  1. Recover the content of the files and describe it.
  2. Find out which software they were created with.
  3. Restore the files.
  4. Find a free viewer and open the files. Show that you are able to do this by providing a Screenshot.

Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on the progress participants make in completing the tasks outlined above and also on the thorough description of the steps taken to complete each task.

Client Server Database Application

Scenario 3

You work for a small company that manufactures grand pianos. The company is currently facing financial difficulties due to low sales. A customer, named Mr. Miller, calls you asking for a quote for a large order. As a previous customer of your company, Mr Miller assumes that you already have all his contact details on record, and therefore he hangs up without providing any.

When you check the company's records however, you cannot find these details. He bought his piano during the month that your company trialled a new database application for managing customer relations. However, you still have a file from this trial and an accompanying note stating that the application has to be 'set up' and contains the 'current database'. You must recover Mr. Miller's contact details in order to make this important sale - can you obtain them?

Task

Your task is to:

  1. Identify the file format.
  2. Set up a feasible environment to handle the file.
  3. Perform any steps necessary to properly access and set up the provided object.
  4. Identify Mr. Miller's address.
  5. Migrate the data records to a relational database system (include the sources of your migration system in your submission in zipped form).

Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on the progress participants make in completing the tasks outlined above and also on the thorough description of the steps taken to complete each task. Extra points will be awarded in task 5 based on the level of sophistication and automation of your method for migration and also its capacity for general application.

Legacy Emulator

Scenario 4

You are a first year Computer Science student. For one assignment, you are set the task of recreating a computer game from your childhood for use on mobile platforms. You must incorporate as many of the game's original features as possible within your project including audio samples. Although you cannot remember the exact name of the particular game you have chosen to recreate, you have found a file relating to it on your hard drive. Can you find the application to run the game and retrieve the sound file?

Task

Your task is to:

  1. Identify the file format.
  2. Name the game the file was saved from.
  3. Run the emulator and game.
  4. Record the sound that is played and save it in an open format that can be embedded into a presentation.

Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on the progress participants make in completing the tasks outlined above and also on the thorough description of the steps taken to complete each task.

Legacy File Preservation Strategy

Scenario 5

Your company is going through a certification process and requires access to business reports for the last ten years. You have discovered that many of these legacy files are partially incompatible with the company's modern applications and that there are many other files like these in the company's archive. You have been provided with representative samples of the files in question and have eventually been able to recover all of the information from the legacy files. However, it has taken a lot of time and effort to access these files and your boss is keen to avoid this kind of scenario in the future. She has asked you to design an appropriate preservation strategy that will facilitate access to such records. How will you do it?

Task

Your task is to:

  1. Display the given files in their original format, or the closest available format to this.
  2. Propose a suitable preservation strategy.
  3. Implement a preservation strategy capable of mass handling of files of this type. Your strategy should, as a minimum, be able to handle all the example files.
  4. Provide a thorough description of your ideas about preservation strategies and an in-depth explanation of the file format.

Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on the progress participants make in completing the tasks outlined above and also on the thorough description of the steps taken to complete each task. The submission will particularly be evaluated according to the following points:

  1. Screenshots of how you rendered the files.
  2. The level of detail in your explanation of the proposed preservation strategy.
  3. The code for mass handling of documents of the example types.
  4. The feasibility of your chosen strategy for long term preservation and the ease of use, stability and robustness of your implementation.

Digital Preservation of Multimedia Art

Scenario 6

A large international art network has provided an interdisciplinary platform for developing digital art works since 1984. The rapid pace of change in software tools and frameworks used for multimedia authoring has meant that its archived artworks are in danger of becoming inaccessible and unusable. You have been asked to preserve two of these historical digital artworks for future generations and to develop appropriate digital preservation strategies. How will you achieve this?

Task

Your task is to:

  1. Develop preservation strategies for the two pieces of multimedia art provided.
  2. Decide which aspects of the artwork to preserve and which to lose.
  3. Point out the differences in the strategies between to two artworks.
  4. (Optional) Implement the preservation strategies you have developed and submit code for this.

Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on the progress participants make in completing the tasks outlined above and also on the thorough description of the steps taken to complete each task. Particular attention will be paid to the arguments given for and against chosen preservation strategies.