The two cultures of digital curation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Summary form only given. The United Kingdom has recently created a Digital Curation Centre whose purpose is to provide advice on, develop tools for and conduct research on all aspects of digital curation. But what is digital curation, and why is it interesting to database researchers? Ask around, and you are likely to find two kinds of people involved in digital curation - at least they call themselves curators and use computers. Moreover, on the face of it, they have almost nothing else in common. An archivist (A) does the digital equivalent of putting documents in boxes. A is dealing with data generated by other people and is concerned with: appraisal - the selection of what documents to preserve, indexing and classification - the choice of which document to put into which box, and preservation - ensuring that the documents are preserved for posterity. A finds computers extremely useful because all kinds of "digital objects" may be archived, and the Internet provides easy access to digital objects. A scientist (B) does the digital equivalent of publishing a textbook or compendium. B might be a biologist and is publishing data that results from B's experiments or has been collected as a result of B's research into the literature. B's concerns are with organization and integration of data that has been collected from other sources, with the process of annotation of this data and with the publishing and presentation of the data. B finds computers and the Internet useful because it is easy to add recent data - one doesn't have to wait for the next paper edition to appear, one can build rather rich representations of the data, and it is easy to publish the data in a form that is accessible to the readers. In fact, B is likely to use some form of database technology. In this paper the author describes some of the challenges for database research and the progress that has been made on them: they include data integration, database archiving, annotation, and provenance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScientific and Statistical Database Management, 2004. Proceedings. 16th International Conference on
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2004


  • Internet
  • classification
  • database indexing
  • electronic publishing
  • records management
  • scientific information systems
  • Internet access
  • data archiving
  • data generation
  • data integration
  • data organization
  • data representation
  • database annotation
  • database archiving
  • database provenance
  • database research
  • database technology
  • digital curation
  • digital objects
  • document preservation
  • indexing
  • textbook
  • Appraisal
  • Biology computing
  • Conference management
  • Indexing
  • Publishing
  • Transaction databases

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