How reproductive is a reproduction? : Digital transmission of text-based documents

Abstract: Heritage institutions today increasingly rely on digital formats for access, use and re-useof their collections. Books and other text-based documents, previously accessed on locationin libraries are now transferred into digital format and managed, distributed, andengaged as binary encoded representations.The thesis addresses the relation between the source document and its reproduction, asconditioned by the digitisation process. This process can be described as based on twosequences of conversion; from analogue to digital format during the procedure of capture,and back to analogue as the digital resource is represented. In a study of the digitisationprocess it might therefore be tempting to place a focus on the technical aspects. However,the thesis demonstrates that underpinning the digitisation process we find assumptionsand ideals concerning the actual defining features of documents and also of their capacityto be informative. An analysis of the digitisation process, has consequently to considerboth the technical parameters in place during the conversion as well as the theoreticalassumptions that have guided its design and operation.Based on two empirical studies – an analysis of the components in the digitisation processand an interview study with researchers who rely on digital resources – this thesisseeks to outline a conceptual framework that structures the relation between the sourcedocument and its reproduction, as conditioned by the digitisation process. Boundary objecttheory provides a theoretical underpinning and is supported by two concepts thatare developed in the critical analysis of document and information theory: modes of representation(referring to the ways in which the source document is represented as a digitalresource) and informative configuration (referring to the ways in which the users engagewith the digital resource, given a specific interest).The thesis contributes to the theoretical development within the fields in Library & InformationScience that are concerned with document and information theory, but also inareas such as knowledge organisation and the application of digital technology within theheritage sector at large. The thesis also indicates some of the possibilities and limitationsof boundary object theory as applied to the study of documents in digitisation processes.

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