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Digital Preservation at Yale University Library: Glossary

a guide to Digital Preservation resources at Yale University Library and beyond

Glossaries, resources, and standards

This list of glossaries includes resources for areas of specialization within digital preservation, such as digital archives, and research data.

Consulting a few different resources for frequently-encountered concepts within digital preservation, such as "migration",  also highlights how rapidly vocabulary in the field has shifted, and may prove helpful for clarifying different interpretations that have been applied to topics over time, even in this relatively new field!

Digital Preservation Terminology

Bit
The fundamental unit of digital information storage, which can have a binary value of either 1 or 0.

Bitstream
A sequence of bytes, which has meaningful common properties for the purposes of preservation. A bitstream may be a file or a component of a file.

Byte
A unit of digital information and measure of data volume, normally equivalent to eight bits.

Content Migration
Content migration is the process of transferring content between storage types, formats, or computer systems.

Data object
A technological instantiation of an information object, composed of one or more bitstreams and dependent on a specific technical environment to provide access.

Digital Content
The conceptual object of preservation. Digital Content is realized as meaningful information by interpreting a data object through its associated representation information. See also: “Information Object”.

Digital object
A digital object is an entity which is the target for preservation. Depending on context, it may refer to an information object or a data object.

Digital Preservation Service (DPS)
A combination of people, processes and technologies, which together provide the means to preserve digital objects.

File
A bitstream which is managed by a file system as a single, named entity.

Hardware Dependency
A hardware dependency is a relationship between a piece of hardware and something else (e.g. other hardware, software, or a document file) in which the other thing requires the hardware in order for one or more of its features to be interacted with.

Hardware Emulation
Hardware emulation is the process of imitating the behavior of one or more pieces of hardware with another piece of hardware, typically a special purpose emulation software system.

Information Object
The conceptual object of preservation. An information object is realized as meaningful information by interpreting a data object through its associated representation information. See also: “Digital Content”.

Representation Information
The set of information required to interpret a data object as a meaningful information object, or a component of a technical environment that supports interpretation of that object (such as a software tool or hardware platform).

Software Dependency
A software dependency is a relationship between a piece of software and something else (e.g. hardware, other software, or a document file) where the other thing requires the software in order for one or more of its features to be interacted with.