Archival Integrity

Archival Integrity


Our mission is for the historical and educational benefit of future generations. That's why we continuously strive to improve the archival integrity of our platform. Here's what we're already doing and what we're working on next.

Reading Metadata

Files born today are jam packed with information about the who, what, where, when, and how of the file's creation.

This information is called metadata and when you upload any supported file to Permanent, we read metadata from all supported files into our database. Then we allow users to edit the metadata for any record in our possession.

This metadata is critically important to archivists trying to understand the context of the historical information in a file.

Historical Context

People don't exist in isolation. Families and organizations don't either – they're comprised of many individual people, all existing together.

That's why every Permanent Archive has a profile, members and relationships to provide important context.
  1. Profile – This is archive-level metadata that uniquely identifies the person, family, or organization represented by the archive for disambiguation and historical context.
  2. Members – These are other account holders that are designated to have controlled access to collaborate on building the archive by curating, contributing, editing, or viewing all files contained within the archive.
  3. Relationships – These are other archives that have been identified to have a relationship to an archive – a family tree, community map or organizational roster. 

File Integrity

It’s an awesome fact that the integrity of a file – its fixity – can be measured mathematically.

Numbers don't lie. The beauty of digital files is that they're built of 0's and 1's and each file has what amounts to a unique mathematical value called a checksum. Anytime a file is edited or becomes corrupted in some way, its checksum changes.

We calculate the checksum of your files and make sure they don't change over time. In this way, redundant copies of the file can be used to restore integrity and ensure file preservation.

Publishing

In order to be perpetually accessible for the historical and educational benefit of future generations, your digital legacy must eventually be released to the public.

We give you complete control to curate your data on your own terms by choosing which files and memories to keep in private hands of have destroyed if you wish.

When you are ready, we will host your curated materials for public access on our system and we will work with museums, libraries, and other digital archives to link back or create publicly accessible backups of your legacy as well.

Multiple public copies of stored in many different places is the unquestionably best way to guarantee preservation.

Our current digital publishing partners include:
  1. The Internet Archive – we're giving our users the option to push their digital materials to the Archive's public servers to become immediately available on archive.org

Saving Metadata*

*This is an area of our manifesto that is currently under development.

It's not enough for a Permanent Archive to capture metadata about a file. In order to make sure the entire record is preserved – both the file and it's associated metadata – that information either needs to be openly published or recaptured in the file itself.

We're working on making it possible for users to save stored metadata directly to supported files they download or export the metadata as a public record for all published files.

Audit and Certification*

*This is an area of our manifesto that is currently under development.

We’re working with archival industry leaders and participating in communities like the Society of American Archivists (SAA) to continuously improve our practice and our product.

We strive to provide the most trustworthy digital repository possible, which is why we’re working to adhere to the most rigorous standards like the Open archival information system (OAIS) reference model. Our goal is to pass independent audit and certification under ISO 16363 so that you don’t have to take our word for it.

Authenticity and Provenance*

*This is an area of our manifesto that is currently under development.

Our ability to prove that all records stored in Permanent Archives are genuine, not a counterfeit, and free from tampering is essential to our integrity. This depends on our ability to prove that records in our archives are accurately attributed to their creator.

While we cannot control what happens outside of our system, we can make sure to validate the authenticity of files at the time they are deposited into a Permanent Archive through digital signatures and track the integrity of those files through immutable cryptographic records.

Information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collection is a fundamental principle of archives and records of different origins should be kept separate in order to preserve their context.

Permanent Archive features like profiles, relationships, members, and directives will make it possible for us to carefully manage the provenance of all the records entrusted to us.

We already maintain detailed transaction and change logs but are looking at technologies that can improve the quality of those records.


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