1.3 Thematic Analysis 1: Defining Authenticity (Migrated NLS Project Blog Post)


One of the points the National Library of Scotland wanted us to consider within the brief we were given at the beginning of our project is the question of authenticity as applied to digital material within their collection, asking: “is authenticity of the original format important?”  As we have been planning our exhibition, this has come up as a troublesome topic, both in whether or not to present this to our audience as a front-facing issue in the exhibition, and in how to gauge the differences in audience interaction with digital vs. physical objects to attempt to respond to this question.

I want to delve into the specifics of the term “authenticity,” as it can have several meanings in the context of our project and in relation to any digital artefacts.  Firstly, how does the term authenticity concern the integrity of the material presented within artefacts, and secondly, how does the term authenticity relate to the value of interaction with artefacts? I’d later like to update this with relevant findings from our exhibition.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)’s publication ISO 15489-1:2016, a Standard of Records Management, directly relates Authenticity to Reliability, Usability, and Integrity.[1]  Another set of standards set out by the project the International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES 2) relates Authenticity to Reliability, and Accuracy[2] and lays out a set of related considerations for anyone working with mainly digital records collections.

When examining authenticity of digital resources from a stance of ensuring no falsification, there are many considerations to be made about file formats, preservation of previous files when migrating to new formats, preservation of a papertrail to preserve evidence that the information contained within subsequent versions is consistent, and degradation/lossiness of the file’s binary digital information. Much of this is discussed in Lin’s "Toward a Holistic Model for the Management of Documents, Records, and Archives."[3]

What I believe the National Library of Scotland is more interested in, however, is user perception of the authenticity of the information in the usability sense.  Is advice provided digitally seen to be more current and therefore more valuable than advice in a presented in an older physical format, despite studies pointing to the increased authenticity (as related to usability) of physical books as learning tools?

At a fundamental level, it has been shown that in terms of the usability aspect of authenticity, there is a measurable difference between digital and physical resources.  Evans et al.’s study The effect of alphabet eBooks and paper books on preschoolers’ behavior: An analysis over repeated readings (2017) tracked preschooler’s behaviors when learning ABCs consistently from either physical or digital books. Although both test groups used the same alphabet, usability-wise, the children interacting with physical books showed more signs of having gathered knowledge from them, and therefore may be considered to have had a more “authentic” learning experience.[4]

However, the opposite argument for ease of usability is the furthering of availability of materials with the creation of digital resource databases, a theme that is explored in Zhang and Xi’s article “The User Experience of E-Books in Academic Libraries: Perception, Discovery, and Use.”[5] Zhang and Xi suggest that rather than mistrust of information within e-books, lower percentages of e-book usage through libraries can instead be attributed to lack of information about the availability of digital files, saying, “Users’ attitudes toward e-books depend on their perceived value and utility, and more importantly, on the technical aspects of access to e-books,” [6] and cite a study wherein 70% of surveyed adult users of digital library resources categorized e-books as either “nice to have” or “need to have” for their studying habits.[7] Unlike the data from Evans et al., which favours physical documents for learning, the availability of digital learning materials and the increased normalization of digital file availability through libraries is reflected in a positive light among users of digital resources in more advanced learning circumstances.

To try and gauge this in regards to our own exhibition, we asked about digital/physical preference and interaction in our visitor survey.  Of the 79 surveys we were able to collect, it was a fairly even 4-way split between preferring digital objects, preferring physical objects, enjoying the mix of both, and valuing interactivity of displays over format.  This could be used in conjunction with the perceived-value authenticity definition above to infer that the audience of this show did not regard a certain type of artefact as more or less authentic, and no mention of the authenticity of the information provided within these formats was made.

We also noticed interesting trends in connection to the Legal Deposit Library System. Although the LDL System could be argued to safeguard authenticity in the integral sense by limiting dissemination of particular materials through a government-run standardised system, many visitors were frustrated by this, particularly in relation to the limited availability of the resources as limited to LDL Library premises, with one respondent saying, "knowledge should be freely available to all.”  This shows that the perceived authenticity of these documents was less important to our audience than their usability, despite the fact that similarly, the physical books in the library can also not be accessed outwith the premises.

 

Entry Wordcount: 987

Running Total Wordcount: 3559

---------

[1] International Organization for Standardization. "Information and documentation — Records management — Part 1: Concepts and principles." ISO 15489-1:2016. 2016. https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:15489:-1:ed-2:v1:en

[2] Duranti, L, et al. "The Concepts of Reliability, Accuracy and Authenticity." The International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) 2 Project: Experiential, Interactive, Dynamic Records. 2002-2007. http://www.interpares.org/ip2/ip2_domain2.cfm

[3] Lin, Chiu-Yen. "TOWARD A HOLISTIC MODEL FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF DOCUMENTS, RECORDS, AND ARCHIVES." Archival Issues (2015). pp. 21-47.

[4] Evans, M.A. et al., "The effect of alphabet eBooks and paper books on preschoolers’ behavior: An analysis over repeated readings." Early Childhood Research Quarterly 40, 2017.  pp. 1–12.

[5] Zhang, Tao, and Xi Niu. "The User Experience of E-Books in Academic Libraries: Perception, Discovery, and Use." In Academic E-Books: Publishers, Librarians, and Users, edited by Ward Suzanne M., Freeman Robert S., and Nixon Judith M., pp. 207-22. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2016. Accessed January 20, 2020. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1wf4ds0.17.

[6] Ibid. p.210

[7] Chrzastowski, T. "Ebook users speak! Analyzing comment boxes from an ebook value survey." Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries (QQML), 1, 2012.  pp. 27–33.

------------

Works Cited 

Chrzastowski, T. "Ebook users speak! Analyzing comment boxes from an ebook value survey." Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries (QQML), 1, 2012.  pp. 27–33.

Duranti, L, et al. "The Concepts of Reliability, Accuracy and Authenticity." The International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) 2 Project: Experiential, Interactive, Dynamic Records. 2002-2007. http://www.interpares.org/ip2/ip2_domain2.cfm

Evans, M.A. et al., "The effect of alphabet eBooks and paper books on preschoolers’ behavior: An analysis over repeated readings." Early Childhood Research Quarterly 40, 2017.  pp. 1–12.

International Organization for Standardization. "Information and documentation — Records management — Part 1: Concepts and principles." ISO 15489-1:2016. 2016. https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:15489:-1:ed-2:v1:en

Lin, Chiu-Yen. "TOWARD A HOLISTIC MODEL FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF DOCUMENTS, RECORDS, AND ARCHIVES." Archival Issues (2015). pp. 21-47.

Zhang, Tao, and Xi Niu. "The User Experience of E-Books in Academic Libraries: Perception, Discovery, and Use." In Academic E-Books: Publishers, Librarians, and Users, edited by Ward Suzanne M., Freeman Robert S., and Nixon Judith M., pp. 207-22. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2016. Accessed January 20, 2020. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1wf4ds0.17.

  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

1.5.5 Phoebe Anna Traquair's Illuminated Manuscript (Migrated NLS Project Blog Post)

PhD Month 1