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DigiCULT
.
Info
18
preservation metadata set fulfil the needs
of preserving records? In order to be able
to do so, it is necessary to have an under-
standing of what records are and what
their requirements are.
R
ecords, according to the recently
published ISO records management
standard 15489, are `information created,
received and maintained as evidence and
information by an organisation or person,
in pursuance of legal obligations or in the
transaction of business'. So, in order to
understand, use and interpret records cor-
rectly, it is necessary to know their admi-
nistrative or business context, as well as
their interrelationship with other records
created in the same context. In order to
achieve this, records have to be authentic,
i.e., in short, they are what they purport
they are.The main requirements for records
to serve as evidence or authoritative
information sources are therefore authen-
ticity and integrity, and knowledge about
the business context and about the inter-
relationship between records (e.g. in a case
file). I will discuss these further in the
following paragraphs in relation to the
metadata set.
Authenticity: management
S
urprisingly enough, the issue of authen-
ticity is hardly touched upon in this
report. Does that mean that it is implicit
or that it is not really seen as an issue?
Unfortunately, no explanation is offered.
Since authenticity is one of the main
requirements governing preservation of
`digital objects', publications,Websites and
(archival) records alike, it will also affect
the metadata requirements. Authenticity
refers to the requirement to be able to
retrace documents or records to their cre-
ation (or origin), so that it will be possible
to identify why, when, where, by whom
and so on they were created (or received)
and used. Answers to these questions are
needed not only to establish the identity
of a record, but also to know whether the
information presented is trustworthy or
useful to know the assumptions behind it.
A
nother question that may be asked
here is whether information about
the original technical environment should
also not be kept or is this supposed to be
part of the `Content Data Object
Description'? An understanding of the
original technical environment in which
the digital objects were created will help
to preserve them. Of course, if the digital
objects are preserved in their original for-
mat, as is recommended in some cases,
that information will be held under the
category discussed here. Nonetheless, I
would like to suggest including an ele-
ment that reflects the original technical
environment.
M
ost administrative metadata are
subordinated under `Provenance
Information' (as part of Preservation
Description Information).This category
is meant to document the `Object' as a
dynamic entity, considering it to be the
result of a never-ending range of activities
or an evolutionary process, without which
it would not exist.The `events' metadata
are related to the processes or activities
carried out in preserving data objects and
should provide information about the
management history. An issue here may
be how to match that information to the
requirements that are valid for the system.
There has to be an evaluation process (in
the OAIS model under `Administration'
Process) that takes care of this and will
produce evaluation information (another
set of metadata) that can be used to adjust
(the performance of) the preservation
function or system as such.These aspects
are not discussed or included in the meta-
data set provided here.
2. T
HE
M
ETADATA
S
ET AND
P
RESERVING
(A
RCHIVAL
) R
ECORDS
Records and records requirements
T
he second perspective I would like
to address in this article is that of the
records and archival communities.The
question is, then, to what extent can the
aspects of digital objects. In a recently
published article Ken Thibodeau even
introduces a third category, i.e. logical
objects.This concerns how information is
encoded in bits and the grammar (rules)
that allows application software to inter-
pret the data. As such, it refers to, for
example, the possibility of encoding the
same conceptual object in different for-
mats.
S
ee `The State of Digital Preservation:
An International Perspective. Con-
ference Proceedings', July 2002;
www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub107/
thibodeau.html
Administrative metadata
A
nother area that requires attention is
the technical information needed to
preserve and reproduce the `digital
objects'.This can be seen as part of admi-
nistrative metadata.The section about
`Content Information' contains, apart
from the `Data Content Object', the cate-
gory `Representation Information'. Part of
this category is `Environment Description',
which should provide information about
the technical (hard- and software) envi-
ronment necessary to render the data object.
It includes information about rendering
programs, operating systems, computational
resources, storage and peripherals.
I
nformation about the digital data
object includes aspects such as technical
infrastructure of complex objects, installa-
tion requirements, file description, so-
called quirks (documenting any loss in
functionality or change of look-and-feel),
structural type, but also significant proper-
ties, etc.
B
ased on the description given of this
section, it only concerns the current
technical environment, not information
about any previous environments. Is the
underlying idea that it will be sufficient to
have information about the preservation
activities performed such as migration,
conversion and their results? This could be
a possible approach, but it would have been