UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Born digital images as reliable and authentic records Bushey, Jessica Elaine


In recent years, the long-term preservation of digital records has received increasing attention. Several research initiatives have focused upon the challenges presented by the preservation of digital photography. They have primarily addressed issues related to continuing access to accurate and authentic images. These initiatives are aware of the fundamental difference between preservation of analogue photographs and preservation of digital photographs. While the key factors allowing for digital preservation are media stability and technological interoperability, central to the scholarly discourse is the changing role of the creator (i.e., the photographer), who is becoming responsible for performing the functions traditionally carried out by the preserver (i.e., archivist). This thesis contributes to such discourse by investigating the creation, use, and preservation of born digital images as reliable and authentic records. It does so by studying existing literature in the archival-diplomatic, legal, and photographic fields; analyzing the results of a survey of the recordkeeping activities of digital photographers; examining existing best practices and standards, especially as regards metadata schemas for digital photographs; and comparing the findings of these research activities with protocols for record authenticity. This study reaches several conclusions. First, an interdisciplinary approach to the topic of digital preservation should incorporate the concerns of both creators and preservers. Second, although photographers are concerned about the reliability and authenticity of their born digital images, they should be informed of the conceptual and methodological thinking that supports best practices for creating, maintaining, and preserving reliable and authentic records. Third, current standards and best practices promulgated by the digital imaging community are a solid foundation on which it is possible to build a trusted recordkeeping system. Fourth, contemporary archival diplomatics provides a valid measurement of the effectiveness of existing standards to document the identity of born digital images and attest to their integrity over time. Lastly, strategies to ensure the reliability and authenticity of born digital images should be developed on the basis of the requirements of the creator's operating environment.

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