Research has proven that digital documents, whether born digital or digitized, cannot be preserved. We can only maintain our ability to reproduce them time after time. The most complex aspects of this ongoing preservation involve those activities that aim to counteract system and format obsolescence or to extract documents from their original environment when obsolescence has occurred before any measure could be taken to avoid it. To maintain and assess the authenticity of entities that no longer exist in their native environment requires the strong theoretical and methodological framework which, for traditional documents, has been provided by diplomatics. Although such framework is still valid when examining documents in digital form, it is no longer sufficient, and needs to be integrated with a tested robust practice that allows the certain authentication of what we keep in digital form, such as the digital objects we link to digitised medieval documents to make them accessible and analyse them. This paper will discuss the integration of digital diplomatics with digital forensics, a discipline that originated a decade ago and developed into a rigorous body of concepts, principles and procedures used internationally to fight cybercrime and identify, retrieve, and make accessible authentic digital objects as evidence of the facts and acts they reveal or attest to.
Dr. Luciana Duranti
Chair and Professor, Archival Studies
Director, The InterPARES Project
Director, Digital Records Forensics Project
School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS)
The University of British Columbia
The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre