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proposed that, as functional concepts, they applied to
three levels, the content, context and structure of
digital objects.
He said: `The question is about interrelationship
and ... how to guarantee authenticity and integrity at
all three levels.The question is also do we need to
establish a concept of authenticity and integrity on all
three levels?' He added: `I would say the first thinking
should be on fixity and stabilising digital objects and
then we could think about integrity and authenticity.'
very detailed methods of control in place all along,
so that you can say that you have a trusted system, it
doesn't work.'
InterPARES had decided on two levels of require-
ments, she said. One was a need to presume the
authenticity of the records based on how they were
generated and maintained.The other was the require-
ment to create authentic copies of the records to
preserve them over time.
Paul Fiander, Head of Information & Archives,
BBC, had an example.The Corporation had almost
one and a half million commercial recordings ran-
ging in medium from wax cylinders to CDs.The
problem lay with the 78 r.p.m. and LP vinyl records
that were too fragile and low quality to issue for use
­ `too many clicks, so we clean them up'.They were
copied onto CDs and, as a result, were no longer
authentic versions.
University of Antwerp (Bibliotheek Universiteit
Antwerpen) librarian, Julien van Borm, didn't particu-
larly mind that process, so long as he knew what had
been done, particularly if the original no longer exi-
sted. He considered that: `In the future, I think we
need not only the document in itself but also the
history, lets call it a C.V. of the document that has to
be documented in the document itself.'
Dr. Brübach agreed completely. An archival object
had to include both the digital object and its proces-
sing history ... `what has been changed and maybe
what has been lost and both together this could give
the user a hint of authenticity, not authenticity itself '.
And he went on: `When we turn to born-digital
objects, does an original really exist in the digital
world? Do we have an original there which can be
identified independently as an original? I would say
no. Any original in the digital world can be defined
as an original by somebody using some means,
maybe metadata, which would be the instrument to
solve the problems you have just outlined.'
Talk around the Forum table began to turn
towards the responsibility of creators to contribute
towards digital authenticity and integrity. Hans
Hofman developed a diagram showing the `digital
object' hemmed in by three entities, the creator, the
preserver and the user.
He explained: `What we are talking about is digital
objects in different domains created by different
creators and used by all kinds of different users.What
authenticity means is, in my perception, what the
creator has an intention to convey to a user with the
object. So, we are talking about the relationship be-
tween the creator, the digital objects he his creating
and the user. But the user has to know what the
intention was of the creator.'
Professor Duranti, who is also director of the
International Research on Permanent Authentic
Records in Electronic Systems, the InterPARES pro-
ject, had doubts about `fixity'. She said that the
InterPARES project had, at first, presumed fixity to
be an essential element of authenticity. She went on:
`But the reason for the InterPARES project 2 is that
we are discovering that by stabilising records that, by
their nature, are dynamic we, in fact, end up forging
them.That is, we are eliminating their authenticity.'
She continued: `... should we have questions that
apply to all digital objects or shouldn't we really have
separate questions for different kinds of digital objects?
Because, certainly, authenticity is not the same thing
to music that it is to a legal record and I think that
the primary concern should be actually separation
not unification.We should set out by thinking of
types of digital objects separately, different characteri-
stics, different solutions and different concepts.'
After further lengthy discussion on varying require-
ments for the integrity of different digital objects,
Hans Hofman suggested that from users' perspectives
the question was simply one of trust. Professor
Duranti agreed but warned against archives' past faith
in creators. She said: `This is no longer true.The
person who generates the material may trust it and
might be wrong. Because, with digital records, the
fluidity of the record is such that if you don't have
Fixed and Fluid
`If the utility of both the fixed and the fluid is recogni-
zed, the Web may develop much of its innovative power
from the possibility of producing documents that combine
both fixity and fluidity. Already, many documents retain a
constant text while their links are continually changed. ...
This interplay between fixity and fluidity, formerly possible
only on the scale of collections, may now become a central
feature of individual documents.'
John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of
Documents, Palo Alto, CA., Palo Alto Research Center
(PARC), May 1996.