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Authenticity: New Personas for Digital Media

Jean-François Blanchette; Bruno Bachimont; Jean-Michel Salaün; Bonnie Mak

Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together @ ASIST '05 (ASIS&T 2005)
Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, October 28 - November 2, 2005


This panel approaches the problem of authenticity as the concept is evolving through technological practices. Most debates surrounding this evolution have proceeded from a naturalized definition of authenticity. This definition is largely founded on the printed word tradition and the principle that faithfulness to the written word is paramount, while stylistic modifications to the form of documents are acceptable.

This naturalized definition can be problematized using two different axes: (1) from textual to non-textual (e.g., audio-visual) documents; (2) from paper to electronic media. In the first case, there are no general and stable conventions for distinguishing content from its formal manifestation. In the second case, the only stable measure of authenticity, that of bitwise integrity, (a) is too restrictive to deal with the inevitable logical format migrations that must occur for digital media to remain accessible; and (b) does not measure how the rendering process of the bitstream (e.g., on screen, on paper) conforms to the content of the document.

The papers in this panel will explore how new electronic documentary practices challenge the naturalized definition of authenticity, and chart how concepts of authenticity evolve in conjunction with such practices. The papers will suggest how new rules and conventions for defining authenticity may emerge in given areas of documentary practices — digitized medieval manuscripts, electronic contracts, XML-encoded documents — or from multidisciplinary research efforts.

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