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Structured Glossary of Technical Terms–

Commission on Preservation and Access

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The Original Document
1.1 Medium
1.2 Format
1.3 Periodicity
1.4 Properties
1.5 Condition
1.6 Content


1. The Original Document
Different preservation or media conversion technologies are appropriate
to different kinds of original material. This section, therefore, is
devoted to a classification of terms used in describing the original
document to be preserved, particularly those terms that need to be
referenced in the context of media conversion.

The term document is used generically throughout this Glossary to
include all forms of books, manuscripts, records and other classes
of material containing information or other matter of intellectual
content, regardless of the actual medium (1.1)
or format (1.2) employed.

The Glossary takes free license with terms that have taken on a traditional
meaning in the context of cataloging and other library activities,
and in fact frequently departs from traditional norms used in this
area. As stated in the Introduction, the reason for this is that such
traditional definitions often confuse the format and content of
the document with the medium used to record it, terms that
have traditionally been used somewhat interchangeably and indiscriminately.
This made sense when paper was the primary medium used for document
capture, storage, distribution, and use. With newer technologies, however,
and particularly with those used for media conversion (3.1),
different media can be used for each of these stages, and, in fact,
different media can be used for different instances of each stage.
In this context, therefore, it makes taxonomic sense to separate format
from medium.

For example, a traditional classification is “Motion pictures and
video recordings.” In our Glossary, the document format would be “motion
pictures.” The medium could be “film” or “videotape” or even “digital
electronic” (such as with digital video). Even a book (document format)
could be embodied in different media: “paper,” “audio” (the “talking
book”), “microform,” or “digital electronic.” To extend the example,

the book could be stored in a digital electronic medium,
and subsequently distributed electronically, and used by “printing-on-
demand” on paper or microform, or by presentation at a digital computer

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