Significant properties and digital preservation

Posted on August 6, 2018  in News

The fundamental challenge of digital preservation is to preserve the accessibility and authenticity of digital objects over time and domains, and across changing technical environments. This requires acceptance both of the inevitability of change, and of the inherent separation of the logical information object from its physical environment. Any successful preservation strategy must reconcile the requirement to maintain the fixity/integrity of that logical information object, with the inevitable transformation of the technical environment in which the object resides.

Significant properties are those aspects of the digital object which must be preserved over time in order for the digital object to remain accessible and meaningful. An institution with curatorial responsibility for digital objects cannot assert or demonstrate the continued authenticity of those objects over time, or across transformation processes, unless it can identify, measure, and declare the specific properties on which that authenticity depends. Nor can it undertake the preservation actions required to maintain access to those objects, unless it can characterise their current technical representations with sufficient detail.