Digital forensics at the Digital Humanities 2013 conference
Digital forensics tools were originally designed (as the name suggests) for the analysis of data on computer hardware in relation to legal investigations, such as “cybercrime”, or simply crime that may have left a digital trace on computers or storage devices. The potential of these tools for analysing born-digital material in archival or digital curation contexts is becoming more widely understood – however, the available tools are not tailored for archivists or librarians, and need to be integrated effectively into workflows for ingest, appraisal and collection management.
I recently attended a talk at Digital Humanities 2013 about the BitCurator project, which is developing an environment for exactly this audience (which they describe as “collecting professionals”). BitCurator is integrating the functionality of a range of digital forensics tools to provide an environment in which users can create disk images, perform analytical tasks on objects within file systems (including deleted material, not just the current files themselves), metadata extraction, and redaction of sensitive information.
Forensics approaches are among the analytical methods to be investigated in PERICLES (in WP4) – a particular scenario for which they are relevant is the appraisal of born-digital material from artists and galleries by staff at Tate Archives. We intend to collaborate with BitCurator team from UNC in developing more detailed use cases for their tools and investigating how they may be applied to meet the specific challenges of our user communities, possibly with a view to integrating them into one of the PERICLES prototypes. There is also scope for some useful collaborations as part of our “communities of practice” work.