Christopher (Cal) Lee

The School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SICE) & Information & Library Science (ILS) Colloquium Series



Speaker Dr. Christopher (Cal) Lee

Where: Informatics East, Room 130

When: Friday, October 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

Topic: “All Bits Considered: Managing Representations at Numerous Levels”

Abstract: Collecting institutions – libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) – have unprecedented opportunities to acquire and preserve traces of human and associated machine activity through access to both consciously created electronic records (e.g. word processing files, databases, spreadsheets, email, multimedia productions, social media) and various other inscriptions that are the result of interactions with a computer (e.g. system logs, configuration files, filesystem metadata). Likewise, researchers have unprecedented opportunities to discover and learn from those traces.  In order to fully realize these opportunities, LAMs must be able to extract digital materials from their original environments in ways that reflect the metadata and ensure the integrity of the materials. They must also support and mediate appropriate access: allowing users to make sense of materials and understand their context, while also preventing inadvertent disclosure of sensitive data.

Digital materials can be considered and encountered at multiple levels of representation, ranging from aggregations of records down to bits as physically inscribed on a storage medium; each level of representation can provide distinct contributions to the informational and evidential value of the materials. There is a substantial body of information within the underlying data structures of computer systems that can often be discovered or recovered, revealing new types of records or essential metadata associated with existing record types.

Many strategies can aid LAMs in their work, particularly by advancing three fundamental archival principles: provenance, original order and chain of custody. This talk will highlight several methods and tools, with particular emphasis on the open-source software created within the BitCurator, BitCurator Access and BitCurator NLP projects.


Bio: Christopher (Cal) Lee is Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He teaches courses and workshops in archives and records management; understanding information technology for managing digital collections; and digital forensics.  His primary research focus is the long-term curation of digital collections.  Cal edited and provided several chapters to I, Digital: Personal Collections in the Digital Era. He has served as Principal Investigator of the BitCurator, BitCurator Access, and BitCurator NLP, and Co-PI on OSSArcFlow projects, as well as several projects (including DigCCurr and ESOPI) focused on digital curation education. Cal is a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, and he serves as editor of American Archivist.  Established in 1938, American Archivist is the most widely circulated English-language archival journal.