A Holistic Approach to Bit Preservation – Københavns Universitet

A Holistic Approach to Bit Preservation

PhD defence by Eld Maj-Britt Olmütz Zierau


This thesis presents three main results for a holistic approach to bit preservation, where the ultimate goal is to find the optimal bit preservation strategy for specific digital material that must be digitally preserved.

Digital material consists of sequences of bits, where a bit is a binary digit which can have the value 0 or 1. Bit preservation must ensure that the bits remain intact and readable in the future, but bit preservation is not concerned with how bits can be interpreted as e.g. an image. A holistic approach to bit preservation includes aspects that influence the final choice of a bit preservation strategy.

Aspects that can influence the choice of a bit preservation strategy can for instance be related to confidentiality issues or how fast the digital material must be available. It can also be aspects of functional preservation (to ensure that the bits can be interpreted in the future) which can influence representation of bit preserved digital material as well as requirements to actions that can be executed on the bits. Finally costs aspects of preservation is an aspect that influence the final choice of a bit preservation strategy additional to the requirements of ensuring bit safety.

The three main results presented in this thesis are:

  •  First, a model to assist in analysis of a delimited and possibly shared bit repository which has to ensure preservation of bits. The model is the basis for defining terminology as well as the basis for analysis of functions within the bit repository and interface to the bit repository. This includes both technical and organisational aspects of a bit repository.
  • Second, a representation concept to assist in analysis and design of representation of digital material under bit preservation. The concept is partly inspired by observations of possible conflicts between requirements for preservation and requirements for dissemination.
  • Third, a methodology to assist in evaluation of the best choice of a bit preservation solution, which can best meet the requirements for specific digital material. Considerations in selection of a bit preservation solution include many of the aspects from the holistic approach where various requirements for the bit preservation must be taken into account.

Academic Committee:

Chairman: Associate Professor Jakob Grue Simonsen, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Lecturer Katherine Skinner, School of Library and Information Science, San José State University, USA
Professor Henning Christiansen, Roskilde University, Denmark