The OAIS. Information Model Revisited Part 3. Towards Models for Interpretation/Virtualisation Recipes

In this note, I begin to explore the use of the Eriksson-Penker UML extensions for business process modeling, as a tool for modeling the processes or work flows required to successfully interpret or virtualise a digital object.

Previously, in part 1 of this series, I explored the abstract notions of data, information, representation information and interpretation, as defined by the OAIS Information Model. In part 2, I tried to apply these notions to a simple example of a Web page. I found that we need to go beyond the OAIS Information Model if we want to capture and represent the “recipes” that take you from a sequence of bits to something more useful, in the general case where there may be multiple steps or stages required to process, virtualise or render a digital object.

Recipes and Dependencies

Take again the example from part 2 of a simple Web page, encoded as an XHTML 1.0 Transitional document using the UTF-8 character set, and stored as a single sequence of bits.

I’m interested in modeling the “recipe” that tells me how to turn the encoded sequence of bits back into a Web page, because this recipe will define the “dependencies” for the preserved object. By “dependency” I mean those items of information and/or software that are required to execute the recipe — the ingredients and utensils, to use the cooking analogy. Note that by “execution” I do not necessarily mean execution by a computer — steps in a recipe might well be entirely manual.

If I knew what these dependencies were, I could then compare them with the knowledge and software currently held by the designated community (DC), and decide which of the dependencies also need to be preserved.

I could also design a system which computes any “gaps” that arise between the knowledge and software held by the designated community and those required for execution of the recipe. This is one of the goals of the CASPAR project.

Read the rest of this entry »