Digital history and born-digital archives: the importance of forensic methods

by Thorsten Ries

01 Dec 2022
Journal of the British Academy, volume 10 (2022)
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Abstract: This article explores the historical materiality of born-digital primary records from a digital forensic, archival and historical scholarship perspective. On a conceptual level, the article discusses the historical materiality, layeredness and complexity of born-digital records, considers the impact of technological change on their forensic materiality as well as archival and historical scholarship methodology and practice. These historical, forensic and archival perspectives will be laid out drawing on examples from Glyn Moody’s personal digital archive, born-digital documents of the Mass Observation Project Archive (MOPA) and cases of cybersecurity events, including the hack of in 2019. The discussion makes the case for further developing open and sustainable digital forensic preservation formats, workflows and practice in the archive sector for personal, institutional and web archives, as well as for the development of digital forensic methodology for critical digital source appraisal in historical scholarship.

Keywords: Digital history, digital forensics, Glyn Moody, Mass Observation Project,, born-digital primary sources, cybersecurity.

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