Knowing how much resource to allocate to managing your digital assets is one of the big questions facing digital curation practitioners today.
Making sure that your digitised collections and research data (or indeed any ‘assets’ your organisation looks after) are reusable in the future requires investment throughout their lifecycle, but ensuring that this is done in a way that is cost effective and sustainable is a challenge.
The crux of the problem revolves around the absence of a culture of communication between organisations. If you knew what your peers were spending on their curation activities, it would provide benchmarks to assess your own activities and make better-informed investment decisions.
Communication bringing clarity
Funded by the European Commission (EC) the project brought together 13 partner organisations across seven countries, each with a shared interest in curation and a strong desire to get a better grip on what it costs to sustainably manage information.
Our guiding principal was to be open and social. We recognised that if we wanted to encourage others to follow a sharing model, then we really needed to practice what we preached. We invited the community for their input throughout, to keep communicating and collaborating as we developed our project deliverables.
The point was never just to deliver large piles of paper to the EC to justify our funding. Instead – for all of us – it was to produce useful and useable resources that would help organisations and individuals manage their costs. Which, I’m pleased to say, we’ve done.
Highlights so far
Before the 4C work, there was nowhere for organisations to even try and share their curation costs in a methodical and comparable way which would enable them to identify and drive down their costs. Now, in the Curation Costs Exchange we have a globally accessible and open platform that allows practitioners to do just that.
Our research showed us that what few cost models for digital curation and preservation did exist were fragmented, hard to understand, and difficult to implement. In response we came up with a Curation Cost Concept Model to help to explain this topic to practitioners and strategists and provide them with detailed support to build new more standardised cost models.
Predicting needs and costs in the long-term is difficult without a base to go from. We have developed a new framework for considering sustainability issues, the Digital Curation Sustainability Model (DCSM), which builds on and refines previous thinking on the subject to help organisations with long-term strategic planning.
External factors, such as advances in technology, have the potential to change how content is managed in years to come, making planning even more of a challenge. To counter these effects, we created the 4C Roadmap which sets out a broad strategic and political agenda for the years ahead, and recommends actions that a range of organisations that should take to enhance prospects for more effective and efficient digital curation.
All of these resources plus other outcomes of the 4C work can be found in our community resources.
What comes next?
Whilst the project ‘officially’ came to an end as of 31 January 2015, this does not mean the work is done. Only last week the project was categorised as ‘excellent’ at its final European Commission review meeting in Luxembourg, and the reviewers were very insistent that all the good work should be carried on into the future.
With communication at its heart, we want to keep engaging with you. Please do visit the 4C project website and the Curation Costs Exchange, tell us what you think and how it can be improved and developed further.
Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.