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At the SPRUCE Book Sprint in July one of the warm up sessions saw an effort to create a Digital Preservation 'Trumps' card game. The initial idea was to play file formats against each other, but after some discussion we agreed that this would send the wrong message - there's more to suggesting and agreeing which file formats to use than simply assessing against a narrow set of criteria. But for the game to work the components need to be comparable against consistent criteria.

After some discussion we came up with a set of criteria that could work against many aspects of digital preservation architectures:

  • Complexity - the extent to which something is complicated. Insanely overcomplicated scores 100 out of 100
  • Currency - how current is a technology. Something which is bang on trend even if widely used scores 100/100
  • Fear Factor - the extent to which something intimidates new users. Impenetrable texts or processes which create their own jargon score 100/100
  • Popularity - how widely is something used. Used by everyone scores 100 out of 100
  • Usability - how easy is something to use or do. If there's something you can use that you don't even know you're using, it scores 100 out of 100
  • X-factor - the extent to which something is a digital preservation 'classic', recognised by everyone (though not necessarily loved). This is hard to assess and is designed to encourage debate.

The group brainstormed the cards. It broke the cards into groups:

  • Content Types - broad groupings of typical content types and use cases that show up in preservation facilities
  • File Formats - a selection of typical file formats that show up for preservation. These need to be carefully selected to encourage comparisons, and they should be generic high-level groupings (ie TIFF) rather than specific versions of a file format (PDF/A3)
  • Platforms - different ways to build a digital preservation platform, whether through in house bespoke systems, outsourced, cloud and so on.
  • Processes - typical digital preservation activities
  • Storage media - different storage media which show up in preservation architectures
  • Tools and models - broadly defined set of digital preservation tools, services and models.