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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Software that can be used to play almost any computer game in history is to be developed as part of a European attempt to preserve digital cultural heritage.

The European Union has funded a €4.02 million (£3.6m, $5.2m) project dubbed KEEP, for Keeping Emulation Environments Portable, which will develop new ways to archive digital objects endangered by the relentless march of technology. As well as games, it will work to ensure that other kinds of files and software remain accessible long after the demise of the hardware and software for which they were originally intended.

Emulation involves creating a software package that replicates the functionality of a previous hardware platform, storage medium or operating system, making it possible to use old software on modern hardware. But existing emulators are usually specialised and themselves prone to becoming outdated. KEEP is intended to be the "first general purpose emulator", designed to be migrated easily to new computing platforms.

More here New software would play any videogame ever created - tech - 12 February 2009 - New Scientist

Project description

KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable) will develop an Emulation Access Platform to enable accurate rendering of both static and dynamic digital objects: text, sound, and image files; multimedia documents, websites, databases, videogames etc. The overall aim of the project is to facilitate universal access to our cultural heritage by developing flexible tools for accessing and storing a wide range of digital objects.

The very success of computing technology, where machines are rapidly superseded, has created a serious and growing challenge of how to preserve access to digital material produced on obsolete machines. Cultural heritage organisations are particularly sensitive to the threat of major data loss resulting from technical obsolescence. KEEP will develop an Emulation Access Platform to enable the accurate rendering of these objects, designed for a wide variety of computer systems, so that they can be securely accessed in the long term.

KEEP will address the problems of transferring digital objects stored on outdated computer media such as floppy discs onto current storage devices. This will involve the specification of file formats and the production of transfer tools exploited within a framework, and taking into account possible legal and technical issues. KEEP will address all aspects ranging from safeguarding the original bits from the carrier to offering online services to end-users via a highly portable emulation framework running on any possible device. In addition to producing a software package, the project will deliver understanding about how to integrate emulation-based solutions with an operational electronic deposit system. Existing metadata models will be researched and guidelines will be developed for mapping digital objects to emulated manifestations. Overall, KEEP will create the foundation for the next generation of permanent access strategies based on emulation.

Although primarily aimed at those involved in Cultural Heritage, such as memory institutions and games museums, the Emulation Access Platform can also serve the needs of a wide range of organisations and individuals because of its universal approach.
Project details
Project Acronym: KEEP
Project Reference: 231954
Start Date: 2009-02-01
Duration: 36 months
Project Cost: 4.02 million euro
Contract Type: Collaborative project (generic)
End Date: 2012-01-31
Project Status: Execution
Project Funding: 3.15 million euro
http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP7_PROJ_EN&ACTION=D&DOC=1&CAT=PROJ&QUERY=011f37a73b31:61ba:091d22f8&RCN=89496

Emulation, what will they think of next.

UPDATE: adding some more info. The possibilities of this project are quite intriguing.
 

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Someone it seems af if I have heard of this.

PS: nothing indicates funding emulation projects would be excluded, or not an actual part of the reason behind the fund itself. MAME could use more of those arcade dumps and cabinets after all.

If anything, funding hobbyist work would make only sense, even. The timeframe of 3 years also would make sense, since pcsx2 and dolphin (taken as examples of complex projects needing time to mature but still rapidly improving) would certainly look slightly different from today (aka much better/faster/optimized/compatible/etc...), so nevermind MAME.
 

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Wow. This does seem very interesting. It appears that game emulation has come a long way and it's being taken seriously. Looks like the argument that without emulation, gaming and other ancient software will become obsolete is gaining some attention. Looking forward to the next 3 years. I am going to keep an eye on this.
 

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Ya'ver drink Brazilian bold from fkn dunkn donuts!
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I agree.

I think that it is fantastic that emulation is now in a state that can be considered a legitimate method of keeping classic software alive. The way that they stated that KEEP is going to go for maximum portability is impressive, and admirable. I do wonder what sort of business model will be adopted, mainly being distribution and sale of old software, or if it will be an all in one wonder program or be a segregated design with each segment concentrating on specific tech, and any legal issues companies may put up with creating an environment for their software catalogue to be used, especially since the introduction of re-releasing games through services like WiiWare, PSN or Xbox Live.
 

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Totally agree with you there snicko. :)

I wonder if this is going to be a free service (because it's government funded, and because they are looking at it from a standpoint that retro gaming is like books that are filled with knowledge that should be available to anyone to learn, for free. Kind of like the software that they plan to produce is similar to libraries, where information is freely available and archived by the government for the purpose of sharing knowledge to the public to learn and to understand the culture of the times and to show others the histrory and how it has become what it is today)...

...or if it's going to be commercial software (I can't imagine that Nintendo would agree to the emulation of their consoles/handhelds without a monetary fee, considering their stance on emulation projects and especially considering how they still hold onto their aging IPs as if Super Mario Bros. for the NES just came out yesterday). That would in turn, take a lot out of funding (because I doubt that Nintendo would just sell the rights for cheap) and would force the developers to charge for the software. I would imagine that Nintendo alone would charge way more than $5,000,000 (the cost in USD for funding) to sell the rights.

Either way, I believe that this news should be spread to other emulation enthusiasts via the frontpage considering that NGEmu is big in the emuscene and is a great way to quickly spread the news throughout the scene.
 

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I'm pessimistic when it comes to government funded ideas, money, and emulation. The main reason many emulators are successful is because they are created by people without a profit motive, they want accuracy, and they are doing it for a love of the medium. I can't imagine an all in one emulator, let alone one made with government funds in a university setting. I also highly doubt this technology will ever go into the public's hands, more like elitist museums, or commercial use.
 

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My guess will be that funding of existing projects or paid recruitment of known coders could be part of that budget.

Aas anyone would guess, the budget itself not just looks low for complete recreation from zero, but also high given how opensource emus already exist whose codebase could be leveraged/adapted directly, leaving spare funding room for different areas.

The timeframe of 3 year also leaves room for much advances to happen in emulation (just by looking at the pcsx2/dolphin/desmume progresses, its likely that about nearperfect emulation might exist by that day, the same way ps1 emulation has been pretty much complete since a few years)
 

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*non existant post ignore*
 

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I'm pessimistic when it comes to government funded ideas, money, and emulation. The main reason many emulators are successful is because they are created by people without a profit motive, they want accuracy, and they are doing it for a love of the medium. I can't imagine an all in one emulator, let alone one made with government funds in a university setting. I also highly doubt this technology will ever go into the public's hands, more like elitist museums, or commercial use.
Well I understand your pessimism, however such a thing isn't unheard of. A example would be the vlc media player. It originated as a project from ecole centrale paris and can currently playback pretty much everything, hollywood be damned.
 

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Sharing time. Its apparently supposed to be partiall based on an exisitng project "Dioscuri", .
http://dioscuri.sourceforge.net/

Dioscuri is an x86 computer hardware emulator written in Java. It is designed by the digital preservation community to ensure documents and programs from the past can still be accessed in the future.
The Dioscuri emulator has two key features: it is durable and flexible. Because it is implemented in Java, it can be ported to any computer platform which supports the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), without any extra effort. This reduces the risk that emulation will fail to work on a single architecture in the future, as it will continue to work on another architecture.
Dioscuri is flexible because it is completely component-based. Each hardware component is emulated by a software surrogate called a module. Combining several modules allows the user to configure any computer system, as long as these modules are compatible. New or upgraded modules can be added to the software library, giving the emulator the capability to run these.ons!
Reminds of those platform-specific drivers for MAME (not the gamespecific ones).


Read here:
- Alliance for Permanent Access


KB's Digital Preservation Officer Calls on Alliance to 'Complete the Puzzle of Digital Preservation'


In a recent presentation before the Conference of European National Librarians Barbara Sierman, Team Leader, Digital Preservation Research at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, called on the Alliance for Permanent Access to pick up where temporary projects such as PLANETS leave off. She presented a lucid overview of the manifold initiatives in digital preservation in Europe. Sierman's paper focused both on organizational issues, the digital objects themselves, and the effects of international collaboration.

Her paper is reproduced in full below.

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Digital Preservation

by Barbara Sierman, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands

Presentation at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Foundation CENL, Zagreb, September 24th to 27th, 2008.

Introduction
Digital preservation is like a jigsaw puzzle: a nice box with thousands of pieces in it and a beautiful picture on the outside, which you can see if all the pieces of the puzzle are put together in the right way, often after a tremendous lot of effort and perseverance. The digital preservation picture on the lid of the box would be of a crowd of happy library users, looking, listening and playing with digital objects which their parents and grandparents created, but rendered in their own computer environment. When this picture becomes a reality, it will demonstrate that the library community preserved the heritage in the right way and that it guaranteed the accessibility and usability over the years.

In the past few years, much effort was devoted to raising awareness of the issue of digital preservation, especially amongst cultural heritage institutions. All those articles, presentations and discussions are gradually beginning to pay off. Digital preservation is no longer a topic that needs to be explained. On the other hand, however, the ultimate goal, the picture on the lid of the box where all the different pieces will become a coherent entity, is still not a reality. Although we are making progress, work is too fragmented and has not led to an out-of-the-box solution. Lots of people are working in the area of digital preservation, but still much effort is needed to integrate the work done on separate pieces of the puzzle.

There are lots of methodologies to complete a puzzle. Some people start by looking for the corner pieces, other people will complete the outer edges first and yet another category will first collect the blue and white pieces to finish the clouds. In digital preservation similar processes are taking place. With so many organizations involved, the list of topics related to digital preservation research gets longer every day. In this presentation I will make a selection and show you the current state of affairs in three areas:

-the place of digital preservation in an organization,
-developments with regard to the digital objects and
-the effects of international collaboration.

The place of digital preservation in an organization

Digital preservation is an intrinsic process and not a separate activity. Whether it concerns a library or archive, digital preservation affects the organization as a whole and should not be an isolated activity. Work flows need to be designed for collection policies and management, selection and appraisal, metadata, access procedures etc. – in the same vein as for printed collections.

Several initiatives have been devised to support organizations in organizing digital preservation, both for newcomers such as organizations starting to think about setting up a digital repository and more experienced organizations, wishing to evaluate their policies and the effects of their preservation activities.

(Self) auditing

The status of being a trusted, or more correctly termed a trustworthy repository is the ultimate goal of an organization with a digital collection that needs to be accessible and usable over time. A first initiative designed to raise the issue of certification and to provide guidelines for a trusted repository was the joint publication in 2002 by RLG and OCLC of Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities. Many organizations are presently using this document as a checklist. The success of this document and the need for an real auditing instrument led in 2007 to a new initiative designed to update these guidelines with the latest insights and experiences, and to turn it into a clear, understandable ISO standard which can be used as a certification and auditing instrument in the digital preservation community. To involve as many parties as possible, everyone interested can participate in this initiative; the discussions and outcomes are publicly available.[1] It can often take years to create an ISO standard, but a first draft will be available by the end of this year.

Audit and certification can also be looked at from a different angle, as is done by the DRAMBORA initiative.[2] This “Digital Repository Audit Method based on Risk Assessment” looks upon digital preservation as the task of managing risks. It offers training and tools to perform a risk analysis of the organization in order to identify areas that can be improved. A third initiative is the Catalogue of Criteria for Trusted Digital Repositories[3] (2007)of the German nestor group.

The three initiatives mentioned do cooperate closely, and in 2007 they jointly formulated the ten core principles of trust[4] as leading principles for trustworthy repositories. These ten core principles were used as input for the PLATTER tool (Planning Tool for Trusted Electronic Repositories),[5] specifically developed to help organizations starting with digital preservation programmes to implement these principles and be able to meet the audit and certification requirements. To achieve this, trained and skilled staff is needed who constantly update their knowledge. Several European projects on digital preservation, such as DPE, PLANETS and Caspar (I will come back to these below), have specifically mentioned dissemination of knowledge as one of their deliverables and they offer training by experts who update staff on the latest insights in various aspects of digital preservation.[6]

The cost of digital preservation still is an interesting and very important topic. As digital objects cannot be ignored, even for a while, at any stage during their life cycle, insight in funding, which is required for the long term, is vital. One of the major initiatives in this area is the LIFE project, LIFEcycle Information for E-literature, a collaboration between University College London (UCL) Library Services and the British Library, which is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). The first stage of this project resulted in the development of a costing model for the different processes taking place in the life of a digital object. Starting with creation, and on to preservation, to access and to bility, every activity in these processes involves costs for the preserving organization, such as acquisition activities, metadata creation, storage, but also preservation watch and preservation action. In 2007-2008 a second iteration of this LIFE project was funded by JISC. This phase will lead to an economic evaluation of the model and an update based on the results of several cases studies involving different kinds of digital material.

Related to the question of costs is that of the “value” of collections. How do we value a digital collection? What material does a library need to preserve? For example, if a library digitizes part of its collection, does it need to preserve the digital master files for the long term, or is it more economical to preserve the paper collection and maybe digitize it again sometime in the future? And how about a full domain crawl of the national websites? As websites are growing every day, it is a huge task for a national library to organize a representative domain crawl. The technical means to implement selections in a full domain harvest are limited. On the other hand storage costs might be a reason to make choices and to select.

Such a selection is one of the topics the European LIWA (Living Web Archives) project will focus on, but the topic of appraisal and selection is also frequently mentioned in conferences and articles.[7]

One of the aspects of digital preservation that is not solved yet, is rights management. When preserving digital material, it might be necessary to perform actions on the digital objects in order to keep the object accessible and usable. These actions might conflict with copyright laws. Preserving organizations are not always sure if they are allowed to perform the necessary tasks. Is it allowed to make multiple copies of a work for preservation purposes? Or to migrate works to a new technological format, thus creating a new manifestation of the original object? National laws are often not updated for the digital age, and if they are, this aspect is regularly left unresolved. Recently a study[8] drew attention to this problem; in conclusion it presented a set of joint recommendations to provide guidelines for national copyright and related right laws.

Digital objects

We looked into the organizational aspects and the trends in that area, but what about the digital objects themselves? Do they change in a technical sense? For a long time the majority of digital objects were rather straightforward, often consisting of one file in a well-known format like for example PDF or TIFF. Many digitization programmes resulted in large quantities of objects in TIFF format. But the digital world is getting more complicated, the users are changing and becoming more demanding, and this is reflected in the digital objects themselves. Websites are a well -known example, as the sites become more complex and offer more features. Long-term archiving of the results of domain harvests is a topic even the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) is slowly taking up, focusing more on harvesting itself than on the long-term archiving aspect.

There is also a tendency to link publications with data bases, websites, blogs etc. to offer the end user a single point of entry to all related publications. This is especially true in the world of institutional repositories, but academic publishers also increasingly allow authors to include other types of digital material within their article. As a memory institution you might want to preserve this set of materials and offer your future users access to it. But the various components of this package might not be located in the same repository. The European DRIVER project[9] will investigate the consequences of these so-called enhanced publications for long-term preservation. One of the essential requirements to preserve this material will be the use of persistent unique identifiers to accompany the publications during their entire lifetime. Another requirement will be interoperability between objects in different repositories, using standards for interoperability. These developments will not only be interesting for institutional repositories, but, as the boundaries between a publication and the linked digital attachments become more blurred, it will become important for national (deposit) libraries as well.

As accessibility and usability of digital objects are the principal goals of digital preservation, it is important to gather all of the essential information needed to render the object correctly in the future. Apart from file format and version information, you want to have information on other aspects like behaviour and appearance of the object at the time it was created - in other words, the “significant properties” of an object. For reasons of economics and efficiency, this information should be collected automatically. Several reference services to collect these kinds of information are already available in a basic form, but they are presently being updated: the PRONOM registry of file format information of the National Archives in London will be expanded in the PLANETS project, the JHOVE project, comprising tools to validate and characterize file formats, received new financial support to start JHOVE2, the UK INSPECT project published some interesting studies, and international initiatives have been taken to set up a Global Digital Format Registry (GDFR). Supporting tools were also built elsewhere, such as the Metadata Extraction Tool of the National Library of New Zealand and the XENA tool of the National Archives of Australia which normalizes various file formats.

Although all of these initiatives are heartily welcomed in the preservation community, they do have one major drawback: lack of sustainability. Nearly all information about digital preservation that has been generated by all these projects is freely available from the internet and tools can be downloaded at no cost at all. But there is a risk that these supportive tools for digital preservation will not be managed properly after the projects are finished. Therefore, although there is enthusiasm about the initiaitives, organizations are hesitant to rely on these tools and build their own, sometimes unnecessarily. The topic of sustainability is especially important in relation to the results expected from the major European projects PLANETS and Caspar. Who will maintain the tools developed? Who will update and monitor the information of file format registries that so many preserving organizations will rely on? If this topic of sustainability is not solved, a lot of effort will be wasted. The solution might be found in my last topic, that of international collaboration.

International collaboration

The 6th and 7th Framework programmes of the EC generated a number of projects with a focus on different aspects of digital preservation. Three important projects: PLANETS, Caspar and DPE are now half way and are beginning to present their (intermediate) results on conferences and on their websites. In the PLANETS project (Preservation and Long-term Access through Networked Services), with the main focus on preservation planning, the PLATO tool is taking shape. This decision support tool will help an organization to plan its preservation activities. In two years time this supportive tool will be integrated with a test bed (where you can perform tests with samples of your collection) and registries with information on preservation tools which you can use for the preservation actions. As I said, the further development of the PRONOM registry with file format information will be part of this project. Digital Preservation Europe (DPE) was funded to bring the digital preservation expertise together and to develop a roadmap for future research in the area of digital preservation.The project also published practical solutions like the aforementioned audit tool DRAMBORA and the PLATTER tool. A new project is KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable), in which emulation, as a preservation action, will be developed further and will be integrated into a framework for use in the preservation community. KEEP will follow on from the emulation development work done by the KB, National Library of the Netherlands in collaboration with the National Archives of the Netherlands, which resulted in 2007 in the launch of the DIOSCURI emulator. DIOSCURI will be further developed within PLANETS. The KEEP project will help to put DIOSCURI in a broader context with other emulator tools. The European projects also focus on other areas, such as innovative storage methods in the Caspar project. The SHAMAN project (Sustaining Access through Multivalent Heritage Archiving) focuses on different aspects of digital archiving systems and, as mentioned before, the LIWA (Living Web Archives) project deals with websites. Several European national libraries are participating in these projects and contribute with both practical as well as professional knowledge. Participating research institutes and commercial partners have their own skills and are often more experienced in IT-related areas, which make them important partners in furthering digital preservation. This mix of participants is crucial for the success and acceptance of the project results.

In conclusion

I have given you an overview of the latest developments in digital preservation, with a focus on organizational aspects, the digital object itself and the progress in EC co-funded projects. Collaboration in digital preservation is crucial, as is often mentioned. Initiatives on a larger scale, like the European Alliance for Permanent Access, should help to unite the scattered pieces and to complete the jigsaw puzzle of digital preservation.

August 2008
 

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The problem is companies who own the digit data like it being disposable, Why do you think Disney puts movies back in their vaults and only rereleases them every generation? Why do you think Sonny Bono gave companies in the US unlimited rights to recopyright data before it can become public domain?

Companies want digital data to die for numerous reasons, first, so they can force you to buy the data again, second so they can resell it on another platform, third so they can move more data to replace it when you can no longer buy the original data legally.

Companies see digital preservation as abuse of their data and allowing people free access to data they *companies* paid money for, and don't want in the public domain.

Considering big businesses run the world governments, I'd expect them to flex their muscles and shut down any possibility of preserving their IP.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Dioscuri looks to be a pretty cool project and a great place to base KEEP from. I remember PatrickVL from the xbox part of the forums posting about another universal emulator named Ironbabel

IronBabel

I guess from a starting point, KEEP will be spoilt for choice when determining where to begin with the programming aspect.
 

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Talks about PCSX2 or Dolphin are probably unnecessary atm because, from what I gather, KEEP is about preserving aging consoles as of now, and not consoles that are still profitable to this day, such as the PS2 or Wii. Then in the future, I suppose that those consoles will be added to the list.
 

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MAME+MESS already would be a mighty start. Code is even public, so nevermind if you add other emus like pcsx2 or dolphin into the cocktail.
I seriously doubt Aaron would permit a University to take over the MAME project, just because the source is out there doesn't mean it can be used for any reason particularly where money is involved...

:evil:
 
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