Notes from Megameeting 18th August 2008


BruceAmbacher UM
DavidGiaretta STFC
JohnGarrett GSFC
KatiaThomaz INPE, Brazil
MarieWaltz Center for Research Libraries
MarkConrad NARA
RobertDowns CIESIN, Columbia University
SimonLambert STFC

The discussion was entirely by typed chat, so the transcript below is a complete record of the discussion.

Progress made: There was discussion of David Giaretta's proposed revisions to the terminology, using Preservation Policies, Preservation Strategic Plan and Preservation Implementation Plan. It was agreed that there is still a need to develop common understanding of these and related terms such as "procedures" and "practice".


  • Simon Lambert to edit Mark Conrad's revised text for B2 from the Word doc into the wiki.
  • RobertDowns to propose definitions for the terms in the hierarchy policy > strategic plans > implementation plans > procedures > practices.

Note There will be no meeting on September 1st.

Mark Conrad >> (All): I keep forgetting to ask what would be the best way to replace the entire text for B.2. with the revised text?
Simon Lambert >> (All): At the moment the revised text is in a Word doc, is that right?
Mark Conrad >> (All): Yes.
Simon Lambert >> (All): OK, I could take an action to edit it into the wiki version.
Mark Conrad >> (All): Ok. I wasn't sure how to go about that short of putting del and /del around the entire section and ins and /ins around the new text.
Simon Lambert >> (All): I think that's what would have to be done.
Simon Lambert >> (All): The current file is B2._Rewritev2.doc ?
Mark Conrad >> (All): Yes.
Simon Lambert >> (All): OK
Mark Conrad >> (All): Thank you!
Simon Lambert >> (All): It might look very messy with so much deletion and insertion - I'll just have to see how it looks.
Simon Lambert >> (All): Hi David
David Giaretta >> (All): Hi - finally!
Mark Conrad >> (All): Oh, I was thinking one big del and one big ins.
David Giaretta >> (All): Thant is probably the best way
David Giaretta >> (All): We can always go back to the earlier versions to check
BruceAmbacher >> (All): could you do a replace with a bracketed note saying previous text is __?
David Giaretta >> (All): Yes - with the appropriate link to the previous version
Simon Lambert >> (All): I think the restructuring is so major that it wouldn't be possible to relate directly to previous text - though I might be wrong.
Simon Lambert >> (All): A whole new level of subrequirements is introduced.
BruceAmbacher >> (All): or could we start to build the clean October 2008 deliverable?
David Giaretta >> (All): Yes - it would not be easy to track the changes back but I don't see any alternative - as Bruce says - start afresh but at least we can see the previous if necessary
Mark Conrad >> (All): I like that idea.
Simon Lambert >> (All): Sounds good
RobertDowns >> (All): I agree
Mark Conrad >> (All): We lost Bruce!
KatiaThomaz >> (All): agreed
Simon Lambert >> (All): David - one of things pending from last time was to talk through the changes you made to the terminology of policies, palns, etc.
Mark Conrad >> (All): Good morning Marie and John. Welcome back Bruce!
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): I'm back  Somehow I got terminated
Marie Waltz >> (All): Good morning, sorry to be late
JohnGarrett >> (All): Good Morning, All.
David Giaretta >> (All): Simon - yes I was just looking for the appropriate link
David Giaretta >> (All): The link I sent should allow people to see the individual changes
David Giaretta >> (All): The link;rev2=10   shows the changes in Section A
David Giaretta >> (All): I hope the changes are clear - e.g. line 16 change policy development to Preservation Policy Development
David Giaretta >> (All): where Preservation Policy is the highest level in the hierarchy Preservation Policies - Preservation Strategic Plans - Preservation Implementation Plans
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): IN scetion A are we truly looking only at Preservation Policy or also overall policy that affects the repository's sustainability?
JohnGarrett >> (All): Yes that was my question also
Mark Conrad >> (All): In looking at this link, I am wondering what the relationship is between this hierarchy and preservation procedures and practices (A.3.)?
David Giaretta >> (All): Bruce - the issue is preservation of the digital information NOT the continuation of a particular organisation - at least that was how I read it
David Giaretta >> (All): The pPreservation Policies would have some implications for the short to medium term longevity of the organisation
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): David,but the repository in question has responsibility for those objects and must show how their overall policies sustain their preservation policies
Mark Conrad >> (All): A.1. specifically refers to organizational viability.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): The whole idea of TRAC is to build incrementally.  A deals with more general aspects.  B deals with those closer to preservation
David Giaretta >> (All): But the phrase is "It provides a foundation for appropriate and focused repository Preservation Ppolicy development in support of long-term preservation" 
David Giaretta >> (All): Maybe I approached this too simply - just clarifying occurences of "policy" and similar terms
David Giaretta >> (All): We could re-write the whole of that part of A but I did not think that was what I was asked to do.
Mark Conrad >> (All): A.1.2. is clearly pointed at organizational viability.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): Do we have to go main to the main document to see A1.2?
David Giaretta >> (All): I've opened 2 windows with the differences and the whole 
David Giaretta >> (All): But again - I was simply looking at our use of the term "policy"
David Giaretta >> (All): The metrics A1.1 and A1.2 do not refer to policies
Mark Conrad >> (All): I believe this whole line of inquiry was started because in Section B it was not clear what was being referred to when it mentioned preservation policies, plans, procedures, etc. I believe we need to identify all of the relevant terms related to preservation, define them, and make sure that the terms are used consistent with their definintions throughout the document.
RobertDowns >> (All): Yes, I agree, and believe that David's changes contribute to this.
David Giaretta >> (All): Mark - Yes, and sometimes the terms e.g. "plan" is used in a general way but sometimes the terms seem to bear a little more specificity e.g. Preservation Implementation Plan
Mark Conrad >> (All): I am still not clear on the relationships between preservation strategies, policies, plans, procedures, and practicies as they are used in this document.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): I confess this change - and the discussion that supported it - are not in my memory.  I guess I missed it when the group decided to refocus A so much.  The entire document supports preservation but it looks at all aspects of operating a repository to do so.
David Giaretta >> (All): Bruce - same here - but I thought that perhaps if we could TRY to apply those terms we could see whether or not it was necessary to define them in a glossary
Mark Conrad >> (All): It appears that this discussion started at our meeting of 30 June.
David Giaretta >> (All): The hierarchy Preservation Policies - Preservation Strategic Plans - Preservation Implementation Plans seems to make some sense but my recollection in going through the text we have is that the main difference is between fairly general use of the word "policy" and something more focussed on Preservation, and then we could distinguish between "policies" and "plans"
David Giaretta >> (All): ...and implementation plan were the most precise type of plans
Mark Conrad >> (All): Where do procedures and practices fit in that hierarchy?
David Giaretta >> (All): As far as I could see we used those terms fairly generally - but to be honest I was looking at "policy" and "plan"
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): Where would a successioin plan fit in that hierarchy?  It does not affect day-to-day preservation but is clearly a key part of long-term preservation planning and the overall preservation policy.
JohnGarrett >> (All): I think our hierarchy of strategies, policies, plans, etc. is useful.  But we also have another dimension.  We also have to decide if that hierarchy is just "Preservaton" or if it is more general Archives policies, etc.
David Giaretta >> (All): I guess that the Policy would be to have a succession plan, the Strategic Plan would be to have a mechanism to identify the successor and the implementation plan actually names the successor
Mark Conrad >> (All): A.1.2. Says, Repository has an appropriate, formal succession plan, contingency plans, and/or escrow arrangements in place in case the repository ceases to operate or the governing or funding institution substantially changes its scope." 
David Giaretta >> (All): Again - I did not think I was supposed to rewrite large chunks of the text - only to try to clarify where we used the terms ploicy and plan
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): And the word "preservation" is not anywhere but it clearly is the purpose of A1.2.
David Giaretta >> (All): Well I suppose my changes include the word Preservation now
David Giaretta >> (All): ... although NOT in A1.2
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): I do not mean to imply that "preservation" has to be in A1.2
Mark Conrad >> (All): David, I think we all appreciate what you have done. I think what we are finding is we may need to do more to clarify what it is we are referring to in each case.
David Giaretta >> (All): But the process presumably should be (1) clarify the use of policy/plan (2) check if that looks sensible and (3) restructure A as is being done with B
Mark Conrad >> (All): I still think we need to specify the relationship between policy. plan, and practice. I think we need to ensure that those definitions cover all of the uses of the terms throughout the document.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): All of that is at the 10,000 ft. level.  We have not finished working at the 10 ft level yet.  We need to finish that then step back and look at the entire document from the higher level.
David Giaretta >> (All): Bruce - what was your response to?
David Giaretta >> (All): or Mark?
Mark Conrad >> (All): I am not sure we can work at the 10 ft. level if we don't all have a common understanding of the terms we are using.
Mark Conrad >> (All): Every time we discuss one of the items we seem to have multiple understandings of what the item does say.
David Giaretta >> (All): Mark - we tended to have phrases such as "plans and procedures" - that would be simplified to just "plans"
David Giaretta >> (All): ....I think this was where we started talking about a Glossary
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): Mostly to the bouncing around from week to week.  I thought we were starting at B4.4 today and we are back in A.  I know we are evolving the document and must go back to bring that evolution to what we worked on but we need to finish one pass through all of it at some time.  October is coming.
David Giaretta >> (All): I guess we could take an action to review the changes I made - bearing in mind how simple minded they were, with a follow on action to think whether we can come up with some Glossary definitions
David Giaretta >> (All): ... then go back to B
David Giaretta >> (All): ... since my changes affect A and B
Mark Conrad >> (All): I thought the purpose of the exercise was to do an analysis of the ways the terms policies, strategies, plans, etc were currently used throughout the document to see if we could arrive at some consensus as to what terms to use going through the rest of B?
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): All of this may also be the heart of the introduction and framework.
David Giaretta >> (All): mark - yes and I think my conclusion is that we were not very consistent - my changes show my best guesses at what we meant
David Giaretta >> (All): Bruce - yes Intro/ Glossary etc
Mark Conrad >> (All): If we all continue to operate with our own understandings of the terms I do not think that we will be able to effectively edit the rest of the document.
David Giaretta >> (All): Agreed but I don't think it is that complex for these particular terms
RobertDowns >> (All): Perhaps the definition of a Preservation Policy would be a formal statement authorized by the repository management that describes the repository's approach and perspectives on preservation.
Mark Conrad >> (All): Is that it's policy or its strategy?
David Giaretta >> (All): Robert - that sounds about right - 10000ft policy
David Giaretta >> (All): A strategy would be how to do it
David Giaretta >> (All): an implementation plan/procedure would be "this is actually how we are going to do it"
RobertDowns >> (All): Perhaps the definition of the preservation strategy would be the services offered by the repository for preserving accessioned resources.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): Where do you fit in goals and objectives and specific activities?  It all depends on how finely you want to subdivide it.
David Giaretta >> (All): sorry - strategy would say how we develop the implementation plan
Mark Conrad >> (All): Practice would be how you actually execute the procedures?
KatiaThomaz >> (All): policy: A plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters: American foreign policy; the company's personnel policy.
David Giaretta >> (All): Katia - always good to go back to the basic definitions! 
Simon Lambert >> (All): Policy is the intent, strategy how it achieved (at high level).
KatiaThomaz >> (All): plan: A scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective: a plan of attack.
RobertDowns >> (All): Yes, Mark, practice would be measured by evidence of executing the procedures.
KatiaThomaz >> (All): procedure: #  A manner of proceeding; a way of performing or effecting something: standard procedure.
David Giaretta >> (All): Mark - by "practice" I would say I meant "they way we do things but don't write down" 
David Giaretta >> (All): We also have things like "procedures, protocols, rules, manuals, handbooks, and workflows"
Mark Conrad >> (All): So based on this discussion can someone tell me what the hierarchy is and what the definition of the term is at each level of the hierarchy?
KatiaThomaz >> (All): i think policies > plans > procedures
David Giaretta >> (All): we had policies>strategic plans>implementation plans
Mark Conrad >> (All): where is strategies and practices in this hierarchy?
David Giaretta >> (All): so what we did not have is procedures
David Giaretta >> (All): that hierarchy
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): Once the hierarchy of terms is sorted out, do we think it is desirable/undesirable advisable/not advisable to change the focus of A to be more exclusively Preservation or to keep it addressing administrative matters that affect and support preservation?
JohnGarrett >> (All): I think the focus of A is wider than just Preservation
Mark Conrad >> (All): It depends on how we DEFINE the terms at each level of the hierarchy.
RobertDowns >> (All): How about the following hierarchy? policies>strategic plans>implementation plans > procedures > practices
JohnGarrett >> (All): Are strategies part of strategic plans?  Are procedures and practices part of implementation plans?
Mark Conrad >> (All): It depends on how you define the terms.
JohnGarrett >> (All): Yes, I'm trying to find out what our collective definitions are.
RobertDowns >> (All): We should refer to strategic plans rather than strategies so that a particular document would serve as evidence of a requirement.
Mark Conrad >> (All): I would say that practices are not part of a plan. They are how you actually execute the plan.
JohnGarrett >> (All): Yes, I think we need to get hierarchy down.  And then we can have a hierarchy for Preservation Planning, for Access, etc.
KatiaThomaz >> (All): this way, you obligate repository to have strategic plans...
RobertDowns >> (All): Yes, Mark, practices should be based on procedures, which are derived from plans.
Mark Conrad >> (All): Practices could be assessed separately from the procedures in evaluating a repository.
David Giaretta >> (All): Mark - sounds right - the practice might not perform the procedure right
JohnGarrett >> (All): Yes, each level of the hierarchy could be assessed separately.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): Don't practices adhere to or deviate from procedures?
RobertDowns >> (All): Yes, Mark, I agree. A procedure is a document. Practice is assessed by evidence of actions.
David Giaretta >> (All): Robert - that sounds like the right distinction
Mark Conrad >> (All): Bruce, Yes. Procedures can be assessed for there effectiveness in addressing strategies. Practices cab be assessed for their effectiveness in carrying out procedures.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): So, the procedures are what we use to show as evidence of . . . But what if the actual practice deviates from the procedure?  How do we provide evidence of that?
JohnGarrett >> (All): We provide evidence of procedures by the existence of documents.  We provide evidence of practice from logs or evidence the action took place.
Mark Conrad >> (All): Presumably you keep logs of what you actually do.
Mark Conrad >> (All): There are requirements for comtemporaneous records of actions taken.
JohnGarrett >> (All): Evidence of policies and implementation plans are also documents.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): How do you provide evidence of Technology watch practices -  technical subscriptions, conference attendance, web surfing?  All fit.
Mark Conrad >> (All): For the higher levels of the hierarchy I would think that the person auditing the repository would have to create a map from the document(s) at one level of the hierarchy to the next and then assess how effective the mapping is.
David Giaretta >> (All): Presumably that is where the skill of the auditor comes in
David Giaretta >> (All): But the archive also has to be able to make the case that the evidence it provides is consistent
David Giaretta >> (All): In fact I guess the main onus is on the archive to convince the auditor
Mark Conrad >> (All): Bruce, Yes those all could be evidence of a technology watch. The auditor would have to determine if those practices were sufficient to meet the requirements set out in the higher level documents of the repository.
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): I view tham as just a part of proving the technology watch program.
David Giaretta >> (All): The skills of the auditor will be specified in the accompanying standard
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): I will be at a conference next week and will not participate.  9/1 is a US holiday,  Will there be a chat?
KatiaThomaz >> (All): sorrry, but i must leave you now. have a great week! bye.
David Giaretta >> (All): If no one in the US is available on 9/1 we could miss that week
Mark Conrad >> (All): I am out of the office next week and on the road (and off the net for the following two weeks). 
RobertDowns >> (All): I will be traveling on 9/1.
Marie Waltz >> (All): I'm out 9/1 too
David Giaretta >> (All): Sounds as if 9/1 is off
Bruce Ambacher >> (All): Looks like no 9/1 chat
Mark Conrad >> (All): Can someone come up with a straw man for definitions for the terms that we discussed today?
RobertDowns >> (All): I would be glad to 
Mark Conrad >> (All): Did we ever decide what the hierarchy of terms is?
Mark Conrad >> (All): Thanks Robert!
JohnGarrett >> (All): I think it is policy > strategic plans > implementation plans > procedures > practices
Mark Conrad >> (All): John,
JohnGarrett >> (All): But I"ll take a look at what Robert comes up with for next week.
Mark Conrad >> (All): Sounds like a good start for the hierarchy for the straw man.
RobertDowns >> (All): I will include it and send it around by email
Marie Waltz >> (All): Thasnk Robert
Marie Waltz >> (All): thanks
Mark Conrad >> (All): Great!
JohnGarrett >> (All): Thanks.  Type at you next week

-- SimonLambert - 18 Aug 2008

Topic revision: r1 - 2008-08-18 - SimonLambert
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