Christoph Becker is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. As Director of the Digital Curation Institute, he brings together graduate students, appointed fellows, faculty colleagues and partners at the university’s library to conduct research at the intersection of digital curation and systems design, supported by grant-funded state-of-the-art facilities.
He has published widely in the fields of digital curation and preservation, software systems, and digital libraries; created award-winning decision support tools for scalable digital preservation in collaboration with international consortia of universities, cultural heritage organizations and commercial partners; and developed open methods to evaluate digital preservation processes and capabilities.
As co-founder of www.sustainabilitydesign.org, he advocates a new interdisciplinary approach to software systems research that emphasizes long-term perspectives on socio-technical systems design.
His research is funded by the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF), and the Connaught Fund.
My research examines the design of sustainability in long-living information systems such as digital archives and digital libraries. My work explores the role of decision making in the capacity of digital resources to endure, develops systematic methods and systems to enable responsible curation decisions on digital archives and libraries, and investigates how decisions made in the design of software systems affect the sustainability of information objects, information systems, and their broader environment. I identify myself as a systems thinker in information science and technology addressing the convergence of the social and the technical in the design of sustainable systems. I define sustainability simply as 'the capacity to endure', recognizing that the capacity of digital objects to endure is fundamentally distinct from but deeply linked to the endurance of information systems and technologies, organizations and communities, and their wider social and natural environments. I am committed to working across the boundaries between engineering, social science and humanities, aware of the conflicting and sometimes contradictory nature of their value systems.
My work seeks to enable information professionals such as archivists, digital curators and systems analysts to take long-term perspectives in their decision making. It unites a concern for digital, software-dependent information resources with a focus on the human and collaborative factors of decision making and systems design and pays primary attention to the longer-term concerns that arise as software and information systems are embedded in the fabric of our societies. My core contributions lie at the intersection of information and computer science, within the cluster of fields comprising digital curation, digital preservation, digital libraries and archives. Beyond these fields, my research addresses the general disciplines of software engineering and information systems through a focus on requirements engineering.