3.4.4 Physical characteristics and technical requirements
- ARA Ireland webpage Catherine, There was a training event in October 2012 in which some of the issues which you raised were covered. If you email...
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Purpose – To provide information about any important physical characteristics or technical requirements that affect use of the unit of description.
Rule – Indicate any physical conditions, such as preservation requirements that affect the use of the unit of description. Note any software and/or hardware required to access the unit of description.
For born digital material the information required to fulfil the purpose of this element is both extensive and complex. It may also be necessary to continually revisit this field as the impact of technical requirements on access may change over time. Practice is still emerging but it is suggested that there may need to be different views of the information recorded under this heading for different purposes. For example, it may need to be explained in summary in human terms and then also recorded in machine readable terms.
The human readable summary should explain physical characteristics and technical requirements in the context of access, e.g. if there is an access copy and a preservation copy of a digital object it may be necessary to explain that what will be accessed is a version of the object that has been prepared for access purposes (with perhaps implications for reduced functionality). Where appropriate, details should be given of whether and how users can access the preservation copy if they require the lost functionality.
The machine readable and more detailed version of the information may be automatically generated (either by the archive service’s, or earlier custodians’ systems) and held in separate digital repository systems, to which the catalogue may or may not link. It is envisaged that such information may be recorded using PREMIS http://www.loc.gov/standards/premis/v3/index.html.
1. Emphasise the absolute need to capture metadata about file format(s) as a strict minimum, making clear that file format is not the same as filename extension.
2. Point to established existing standards and guidance, notably ISO 14721, Digital Preservation Coalition, PRONOM and others. Personally I find the LOC resources tend to be vague, strewn with inaccuracies, sometimes out of date, and anyway not intended primarily for archives.
Incidentally, one of the frustrations of work in this domain is that different standards and guidelines use different and incompatible conceptual models. In this regard, PREMIS (cited in this draft) stands out – its underlying model is complex, unique and not compatible with ISO documents. And it is highly technical and difficult to use too, so I’d beware of recommending it. Show more 4 years ago