Preserving digital information is a fundamental concept in digital and data stewardship. This dissertation explains what successfully ‘preserving information’ really is, and provides a framework for understanding when and why failures might happen and how to avoid them. The lack of a formal analysis of digital preservation is problematic. Some notes and quotes from the dissertation:
- At a high level of generality, bit preservation means enabling the possibility for the same (set of ) bit sequence(s) to be discriminated at different points in time, and, potentially, across changes in the underlying storage technology."
- Bit level preservation is a mean, not the goal, in digital stewardship.
- As suggested by the OAIS definition of digital preservation, successful digital preservation is about “maintaining” or “preserving” information.
- Preserving information appears to be a metaphorical expression where a complex set of requirements needs to be satisfied in order for an agent to be presented with intended information
- The best contemporary theories of digital preservation do not focus on the preservation of any sort of object, but rather on preserving access.
- it is impossible to preserve a digital document as a physical object. One can only
preserve the ability to reproduce the document.
- "You cannot prove that you have preserved the object until you have re–created it in some form that is appropriate for human use or for computer system applications.”
- “digital records are not stable artefacts”; they last only when certain circumstances are met
- Bit preservation is only the first required step for successful digital stewardship. Interpreting the bits such that an intended digital material obtains through appropriate performances is essential as well.
- Successful digital preservation of information can be conceived as sustained and reliable communication mediated by digital technology and agents involved in the communication process.