Digital forensics: SILS experts research meaningful use of digital material

An archivist gets a call from the husband of a famous scientist who died. He wants to donate materials to the archives that can help people to understand and learn about her research. The archivist visits their home and is handed a cardboard box full of floppy disks, CDs, Zip disks and a hard drive. What’s the archivist to do?

Researchers at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland are investigating methods and developing tools for these sorts of situations.

A new white paper titled, “From Bitstreams to Heritage: Putting Digital Forensics into Practice in Collecting Institutions,” examines the application of digital forensics methods to materials in collecting institutions – particularly libraries, archives and museums. It is a product of the BitCurator project and is written by Christopher A. Lee, Frances Carroll McColl Term Professor, and research associate Kam Woods of SILS; Matthew Kirschenbaum, associate director of MITH; and SILS doctoral student Alexandra Chassanoff.

”The landscape has changed quite dramatically in the past few years,” Lee says. “The white paper reflects a great deal of energy and progress around the work of extracting, securing and describing information that’s been stored on computer disks and drives.”

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Published December 2, 2013.