Diplomatics of born digital documents – considering documentary form in a digital environment | Records Management Journal

Volume 25 Issue 1, Digital Diplomatics
Purpose
This paper explores a new model of ‘record’ that maps traditional attributes of a record onto a technical decomposition of digital records. It compares the core characteristics necessary to call a digital object a ‘record’ in terms of diplomatics, or ‘evidence’ in terms of digital forensics. It then isolates three layers of abstraction: the conceptual, the logical, and the physical. By identifying the essential elements of a record at each layer of abstraction, a diplomatics of digital records can be proposed.

Design/methodology/approach
Digital diplomatics, a research outcome of the InterPARES project, gives archivists a methodology for analyzing the identity and integrity of digital records in electronic systems and thereby assessing their authenticity (Duranti & Preston, 2008; Duranti, 2005) and tracing their provenance.

Findings
Digital records consist of user-generated data (content) plus system-generated metadata identifying source and location plus application-generated metadata managing the look and performance of the record (example: native file format) plus application-generated metadata describing the data (example: file system metadata OS) plus user-generated metadata describing the data. Digital diplomatics, based on a foundation of traditional diplomatic principles, can help identify digital records through their metadata and determine what metadata needs to be captured, managed, and preserved.

Originality/value
The value and originality of this paper is in the application of diplomatic principles to a deconstructed, technical view of digital records through functional metadata for assessing the identity and authenticity of digital records.
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/RMJ-03-2014-0021