A Digital Curation Perspective

The perspective of the DCI arises from its position at the iSchool in Toronto and from the background of its members. As such, it provides the primary impulse for the direction of the DCI but should not be taken as its sole perspective. Independent of this view, the Institute fundamentally strives to be a pluralistic place open to multiple views that go beyond this initial focus. It aims to provide a focal point for a lively curation discourse open to different, including contradicting, viewpoints.

  • Information Systems, Software, and Design. No digital information is managed without some kind of system, embedded in and connected to other systems, whether these are intentionally and carefully designed, organically grown, or arising from happenstance. There is no access to digital information unless mediated through software as a crucial part of information systems. Questions of sustainable information systems and software design hence become a fundamental part of the curation discourse.
  • Responsibility and decision making. The irreducible element of digital curation is the one of conscious human choice, taking decisions based on a sense of responsibility. The desire to automate information processes in software should not be driven by a desire to make the stewards’ roles superfluous; it should be driven by the recognized need to enable curators to take well-informed effective decisions.
  • Trust and Scalability are the seemingly incompatible and often entangled objectives that are constantly on the radar in digital curation, archiving, and preservation. Trust drives responsible organizations to focus on accountability, traceable decision making, evidence, audit and certification. The scalability needed to cope with the data deluge, on the other hand, requires automated actions, standardization, and minimized human intervention. Decoupling these dimensions in concrete decision making situations poses a major challenge in increasingly large-scale open-ended digital environments.
  • Sustainable ecosystems. The perspective of digital curation is inherently future-oriented and built on an assumption that sustainability is a fundamental aspect of any successful information infrastructure. However, a much deeper understanding of digital socio-technical ecosystems is needed to make this assumption a reality and enable conscious design decisions.
  • Synergies across disciplines. A fundamental driver of a successful DCI must be the objective to facilitate interaction and discourse across disciplines and understand the transdisciplinary nature of curation questions. This will inevitably involve challenging established assumptions in each of the involved disciplines.
  • A focus on challenges in research and practice is key to nurturing the curiosity of next-generation curators and researchers, expanding our ability to provide insights into the future challenges facing practitioners, and equipping next-generation curators with the toolsets and the mindset to tackle challenges that are not yet on their radar.