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Adding emulation functionality to existing digital preservation infrastructure

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This paper shows how using emulation technologies to simulate obsolete computer systems can play an integral role in the digital preservation of information. The combination of state-of-the-art emulation as a service technology with an off-the-shelf digital preservation platform can make the process straightforward for the end user. The emulation of obsolete hardware and software environments to enable information to be read, and to facilitate interaction in a way that simulates the original user experience, is a well-established part of digital preservation solutions. Excellent tools have been developed to work with emulators, but these have remained in the research domain rather than being exploited at scale. This paper explores how an emulation framework has been added to an existing digital preservation infrastructure, enabling information extracted from obsolete hardware to be held in a digital preservation system at Yale University Library (YUL), and linked to an appropriate emulator. This enables YUL to recreate the user experience of interacting with content using the original software quickly and easily. This paper shows why emulation is required and how the integration of these technologies offers the prospect of large-scale emulation as a service linked to real preserved data. It will also examine the next steps needed to make this a reality.
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Keywords: digital preservation; emulation; preservation strategy; software-based art

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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