Decentralized Digital Collections Storage

Erin Barsan and Ben Fino-Radin
Electronic Media Review, Volume Six: 2019-2020


The collections care of time-based media art requires, as a basic principle, that one stores more than just one copy of digital collections objects—as the edict goes: “lots of copies keep stuff safe.” The digital preservation field has given us incredibly detailed standards and best-practice guidelines that describe the process of keeping multiple geographically distributed copies of preservation-worthy material. However, these standards and best practices are—especially for time-based media art collections with large quantities of moving images—very difficult and costly to achieve. In the field of libraries and archives, numerous institutions have turned to the model of cooperative digital preservation storage networks. By sharing their infrastructures with one another, members of these networks have the potential to meet high digital preservation standards at lower costs, with less logistical overhead or dependence on commercial cloud services. However, these existing cooperative storage networks and technologies have been built very much by and for libraries and archives; their use does not map to the needs and requirements of art collections. This session will present research findings from a user-centered design approach to architecting a decentralized storage network that meets the needs and requirements of art institutions while leveraging recent advances in cryptographic decentralized storage protocols currently unexplored in digital preservation.

Keywords: time-based media, digital preservation, decentralization


Ben Fino-Radin
Small Data Industries

Erin Barsan
Operations Associate
Small Data Industries