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Our Digital Future - Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Long Term Data Preservation and Access

Monday, 14 March 2016, 9.00am to Tuesday, 15 March 2016, 5.00pm
Location: Murray Edwards College, Cambridge

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Download the abstracts and the programme at the bottom of this page.


As the worldwide volume of digital data undergoes exponential growth, Big Data technology allows unexpected value to be derived from existing and new datasets, and increasingly huge datasets to be recorded across all areas of academic research. As data volumes grow, and electronic storage deteriorates, the recoverability of this data is dependent upon curation of electronic archives and replacement of storage media, along with the ability to discover and access the data stored using technologies that may soon be obsolete. Decisions will need to be made about which data is kept, how it is stored, and how it can be accessed, in order that the scientific and human record from the current digital age is appropriately preserved for the future.

With keynote speakers representing disciplines ranging from high energy physics to digital humanities, from bioinformatics to libraries, this two-day conference will address perspectives from technology, policy and the social sciences on data as our human record.


Areas of discussion will be wide-ranging, including.

  • Code, compilers, machines and emulators to read data
  • Standards, file formats, metadata and conventions
  • Access, networking and cloud storage
  • Technical issues in long-term data storage
  • Data protection, consent and copyright
  • Discoverability: metadata, link rot
  • Policies and practices – long term data preservation, open access
  • What can digital data preservers learn from archivists and librarians? Which data are important?


Who should attend?

This conference is open to researchers, students, practitioners and policymakers interested in the preservation of digital data and who wish to inform a roadmap for research and funding in this area. 



Public Lecture

A public lecture, in conjunction with the Cambridge Science Festival, will be held on the evening of 14 March.


Call for Papers

The call for abstracts is now closed.


Conference structure

14 March 2016

Presentations and panel discussions on Digital data as the human recordSystems, devices and infrastructures – storing, sharing and curating, and Data Preservation Policy

15 March 2016

Focused workshops aimed at understanding and generating research questions and collaborations

Workshop 1: What should we keep? Lessons from history and the shift to digital Organiser Dr Anne Alexander, Cambridge Digital Humanities Network

This workshop addresses the implications for human culture, science and memory of a generalised shift from paper versions of record to digital versions of record, and seeks to identify where and how this transition is taking place.

Workshop 2: Storing, sharing and curating digital (big) data Organiser Professor Val Gibson, Cavendish Laboratory

This workshop will address the technical challenges in data preservation and access, including storage media, metadata, provenance and remote access, aiming to produce a roadmap of the needs and challenges.

Click here to view the Draft Programme


We acknowledge the kind support of EPSRC and Cambridge University Press in hosting this workshop

PDF icon Download the Programme489.61 KB
PDF icon Download the Abstracts293.31 KB
PDF icon Conference report626.12 KB