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National Library, Norway
The National Library of Norway (NLN) takes yet another selective approach to cap-
turing dynamic cultural resources from the web.The library is currently discussing with
Norwegian newspaper publishers to place software engines at their sites.This automatic
agent will report back to the library, if new information is to be harvested.This way, the
library does not need to collect the full site after every change. According to Svein Arne
Brygfjeld, Head of Research and Innovation at NLN, the newspaper publishers are very
co-operative in this approach.
Facing the trend on the Internet to increasingly generate content directly from databases,
on demand and on the fly, the difficulty of assuring fixity and providing the context of
digital cultural resources will increase dramatically. In addition, as Seamus Ross remarks, the
real difficulty is not to preserve the web pages on the Internet but "it is its other aspects,
such as the social environments it fosters and the communication interfaces on which it
depends that will prove the most difficult to preserve and for future researchers to
reconstruct". (Ross, 2000: p. 22)
Today, there is no technological system that allows to capture and "freeze" the commu-
nicative context and the relationships people have developed by participating in web
communities.To reconstruct these solcial relations will be the real challenge of the future.
Provenance and authenticity
The principle of provenance has become one of the central organising concepts in pre-
serving and archiving resources. It stipulates that the integrity of an information object is
partly embodied in tracing its origin.To preserve the integrity of an information object,
digital archives must preserve a record of its origin and chain of custody. In practice, a
record of provenance can be established in two ways, first, through a formal process of
publication and distribution and second, by tracing the path of migration.
In the digital realm, however, creating a trusted record of provenance is increasingly
difficult as there exist more and more chains of provenance that need to be followed to
guarantee that a record is authentic.This includes, to confirm the identity of individuals and
corporate bodies, or trace the creation process of data. In addition, digital archives need to
prove what happens with information within their own organisation so that the chain of
provenance remains intact and hence, authentic.
Authenticity, or content assurance, is the process of determining that a document or its
reproduction is what it appears or purports to be. Based on methods of identification and
verification, the origin, completeness and internal integrity of a document are assessed. In
the cultural community, concern about authenticity are not new, yet "with the ubiquity of
digital representations and the proliferation of source information on the Internet, these
issues are further complicated." (Bearman,Trant, 1998)
There are two distinct technical strategies to assert authenticity (Bearman,Trant, 1998):
"Secret methods" to assert authenticity
This involves hiding data in the object to reveal its source, and include methods such as:
digital watermarking,
steganography, and
digital signatures.