Bradley Hall C/D
Friday, July 13, 2012
When acquiring born-digital materials, archivists often must extract digital materials from removable media in ways that reflect the rich metadata of and ensure the integrity of the materials. They must also allow users to make sense of materials and understand their context, while preventing inadvertent disclosure of sensitive data. There are a variety of methods and strategies from the field of digital forensics that can aid this work. This presentation will report on the development and application of digital forensics tools to improve the acquisition, management and access functions of archives. I will report on the BitCurator project, which is identifying the current and desirable workflows of several archival institutions, as well as developing and testing of tools to support the workflows. Digital forensics offers valuable methods that can advance the archival goals of maintaining authenticity, describing born-digital records and providing responsible access. However, most digital forensics tools were not designed with archival objectives in mind. This presentation will place significant emphasis on two fundamental needs of archives that are not addressed by software designed for the digital forensics industry: incorporation into the workflow of archives’ acquisition and collection management environments, and provision of public access to the data.
Original order in the digital world
In this paper, the author will present a framework of the order and relationships of electronic records, and discuss how to manage the orders and relationships in records transfer, processing and access. In digital archiving, the order of electronic records has morphed into a multi-layer model and a complex web of relationships. Some of these orders and relationships are inherited from record producers and others are created by archival institutions for long-term preservation purposes. Some have equivalents in the paper world whereas others are unique to electronic records. Some can be examined and altered by archivists; others are determined by computer engineers and cannot be directly manipulated by archivists. Like paper records, electronic records have a conceptual order, which is the network of relationships among records that reflect the records creation context, i.e. how the records emerged through record creating functions and activities. Archivists arrange the digital record storage media and the folder structure within each storage medium based on the conceptual relationships among records. Compound electronic records also have an internal order in which the components are related and combined in presentation. The physical order in which the bits are inscribed to the storage media and the internal structures of computer files are usually not archival management concerns. In addition, electronic records archivists also need to manage the relationships between the paper and electronic components of an archival collection; the relationships between multiple formats of the same record that are created for different purposes; the relationships between multiple copies created for disaster recovery purposes; and the relationships between the original format and the multiple migrated versions, as well as the multiple captures taken to preserve dynamic records.
When transferring electronic records from producers to archives, archivists respect the original order by creating folder structures that mimic the physical order of storage media, retaining the original folder structure and overcoming various threats to original order that occur in record copying. During processing, archivists decide to retain the original order or re-arrange electronic records based on factors similar to those considered for the arrangement of traditional records. Some unique features of electronic records, such as powerful search capabilities and automatic sorting, may make the decision to retain the original order more appealing. For preservation purposes, archivists often need to refresh storage media or migrate file formats. During these processes, although physical and logical orders may be altered, archivists need to make sure conceptual relationships remain intact. In access, digital archives need to present the original hierarchical structure of an archival collection, allow multiple arrangements, and present the layout structure of the content of electronic records.
My paper will be an outline and reflection on my literature review for my PhD. I will explore some of the key themes from the literature on the information/evidence tension and the dimensions of its conflict or co-existence and in particular will explore the concepts of the record as information and the record as evidence. This will be done using Buckland’s typology of information as a framework. Especially relevant is the concept of “Information as Thing” (Bukcland, 1991) i.e. that an object is information because it has information qualities and that it is evidence of something.
AERI presents a wonderful opportunity to receive feedback on my work so far and my research objectives.