Lessons from a Digital Preservation Neophyte

On September 3, 2010, in Research, by Angela Jordan

Editor’s Note:  This is the first post from Angela Jordan. Her experience trying to install Archivematica illustrates that one cannot overestimate the number of things that can go wrong when installing someone else’s software, no matter how simple the process might appear on text or how smart the person doing the installing. In a separate post, I’ll put some thoughts regarding her experience.

Now, on to Angela:

Four hours after beginning a seemingly simple installation process, I finally completed installing Archivematica.  As an individual with no IT experience, I am a perfect test case to gauge the accessibility of this program installation.

My first moments of confusion happened immediately.  Part of the problem resulted from my outdated equipment. Various attempts to download VirtualBox using the links the Archivematica Downloads page simply froze the computer. My next step was to download the program from the Oracle website. (screenshot below)

My confusion continued upon downloading VirtualBox, which is required to run Archivematica: what operating system do I wish to download, Windows or an open source operating system?  This confusion stemmed from my ignorance of the University Archives operating systems and from the way Oracle presented the download page.

Once I chose to download Windows, my efforts stalled yet again.  For an indiscernible reason, the program would not download successfully.  After the confusion and mounting frustration of not recognizing the source of the problem [editor’s note: we later determined it was a Firefox issue], I successfully downloaded the complete program by right-clicking and selecting ‘save as.’  I had to go through the same frustration when downloading the Archivematica file [editor’s note: disk image].

So far, the entire process seemed to confirm my status as the technology-challenged guinea pig.  Downloading all of the required components took approximately three hours.

Installing and starting the Archivematica appliance went smoothly, taking a little less than an hour from start to finish.  However, Microsoft Windows did not appreciate my attempt to install a non-Microsoft program, and I received several warnings against installing non-verified software.  The message, although annoying to me, and something Chris told me to click through, could easily intimidate others from continuing their installation.

In short, the Archivematica installation process was exasperating.  Not only was I working on an ancient computer, the various steps and instruction language were not aimed at IT neophytes.