Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ISO review of OAIS

ISO standards are regularly reviewed. In 2017, the OAIS standard ISO14721 will be reviewed. The DPC is spearheading a praiseworthy effort to involve the digital preservation community in the process of providing input to this review, via this Wiki.

I've been critical of OAIS over the years, not so much of the standard itself, but of the way it was frequently mis-used. Its title is Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), but it is often treated as if it were entitled The Definition of Digital Preservation, and used as a way to denigrate digital preservation systems that work in ways the speaker doesn't like by claiming that the offending system "doesn't conform to OAIS". OAIS is a reference model and, as such, defines concepts and terminology. It is the concepts and terminology used to describe a system that can be said to conform to OAIS.

Actual systems are audited for conformance to a set of OAIS-based criteria, defined currently by ISO16363. The CLOCKSS Archive passed such an audit last year with flying colors. Based on this experience, we identified a set of areas in which the concepts and terminology of OAIS were inadequate to describe current digital preservation systems such as the CLOCKSS Archive.

I was therefore asked to inaugurate the DPC's OAIS review Wiki with a post that I entitled The case for a revision of OAIS. My goal was to encourage others to post their thoughts. Please read my post and do so.

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