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Managing long-term access to digital data objects: a metadata approach

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posted on 18.11.2010, 14:38 by Alison H. Chilvers
As society becomes increasingly reliant on information technology for data exchange and long-term data storage the need for a system of data management to document and provide access to the 'societal memory' is becoming imperative. An examination of both the literature and current 'best Practice' underlines the absence to date of a proven universal conceptual basis to digital data preservation. The examination of differences in nature and sources of origin, between traditional 'print-based' and digital objects leads to a re-appraisal of current practices of data selection and preservation. The need to embrace past, present and future metadata developments in a rapidly changing environment is considered. Various hypotheses were formulated and supported regarding; the similarities and differences required in selection criteria for different types of Digital Data Objects (DDOs), the ability to define universal threshold standards for a framework of metadata for digital data preservation, and the role of selection criteria in such a framework. The research uses Soft Systems Methodology to investigate the potential of the metadata concept as the key to universal data management. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the attitudes of information professionals in the United Kingdom towards the challenges facing information-dependent organisations attempting to preserve digital data over the long-term. In particular, the nature of DDOs being encountered by stakeholders, the reasons, policies, and procedures for preserving them, together with a range of specific issues such as; the role of metadata, access to, and rights management of DDOs. The societal need for selection to ensure efficient long-term access is considered. Drawing on - SSM modelling, this research develops a flexible, long-term management framework for digital data at a level higher than metadata, with selection as an essential component. The framework's conceptual feasibility has been examined from both financial and societal benefit perspectives, together with the recognition of constraints. The super-metadata framework provides a possible systematic approach to managing a wide range of digital data in a variety of formats, created/owned by a spectrum of information-dependent organisations.



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  • Information Science


© Alison H. Chilvers

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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