The writings of Yuk Hui, bringing together both technical and philosophical insights, present a new way of dealing with the digital. The aim of this article is to assess the use of Hui’s theories on digital objects as a critical reframing, looking at the concept of digital records in particular. Two types of ontology are needed in order to understand digital objects according to Hui: (1) ontologies which relates to the technical language and hierarchies of knowledge representation, like metadata; (2) Ontology, which is a question of being-in-the-tradition of Heidegger’s phenomenology, the understanding of what it is to be in the world. Both are needed to account for the nature of the digital object. Further, digital objects are produced and constituted through their relations, which can be divided into discursive (technical and logical) and existential (the understanding of being-in-the-world) relations. Different conceptions of digital records are discussed, in order to find commonalities and possibilities in relation to Hui’s theory. The digital record as a process of becoming, information as affordance, and temporality are related to and structured through the application of Hui’s perspective. The article ends with the contribution of a possible redefinition of digital records: a digital record is constituted and concretised as material by discursive and existential relations that taken together function as a persistent representation. Hui’s theory is suggested as a set of coordinates for further thinking and a method for critical reading of digital records.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Acker A (2017) When is a record; a research framework for locating electronic records in infrastructure. In: Gilliland AJ, McKemmish S, Lau AJ (eds) Research in the Archival Multiverse. Monash University Publishing, Clayton
Bastian JA (2016) Moving the margins to the middle: Reconciling ‘the archive’ with the archives. In: Foscarini F, MacNeil H, Bonnie M, Gillian O (eds) Engaging with Records and Archives, 1st edn. Facet, London, pp 3–20
Bearman D (1993) Record-keeping systems. Archivaria, 36
Bearman D (1994) Electronic evidence: strategies for managing records in contemporary organizations. Archives and Mus, Informatics, Pittsburgh
Becker C (2018) Metaphors we work by—reframing digital objects, significant properties, and the design of digital preservation systems. Archivaria, 85
Clemens J, Nash A (2018) Irremediability. On the very concept of digital ontology. In: Lagerkvist A (ed) Digital existence: ontology, ethics and transcendence in digital culture, 1st edn. Routledge, New York
Chun WHK (2011) Programmed visions: Software and memory. MIT Press, Cambridge
Cook T (1992) The concept of the archival fonds in the post-custodial era: theory, problems and solutions. Archivaria, 35
Cox RJ (1994) Re-discovering the archival mission: the recordkeeping functional requirements project at the University of Pittsburgh, a progress report. Archiv Mus Inf 8(4):279–300. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02770380
Digital Object. In: Pearce-Moses R (ed) InterPARES Trust Terminology. InterPARES Trust. https://interparestrust.org/terminology/term/digital%20object/en
Duranti L (2001) The impact of digital technology on archival science. Arch Sci 1(1):39–55. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02435638
Expert Group on Archival Description (2016) Records in Context - A Conceptual Model for Archival Description. ICA.
Gauld C (2019) The end of archival ideas? In: Brown C (ed) Archival Futures, 1st edn. Facet, London
Gilliland A (2006) Electronic records management. Ann Rev Inf Sci Technol 39(1):219–253. https://doi.org/10.1002/aris.1440390113
Gruber T (2009) Ontology. In: Liu L, Özsu MT (eds) Encyclopedia of database systems. Springer, New York
Hörl E (2015) The technological condition (Enns A trans). parrhesia, 22
Hui Y (2011) A Phenomenological Inquiry on the Emergence of Digital Things. In: Schwinghammer A, Kiwi Menrath S (eds) What Does a Chameleon Look Like? Topographies of Immersion. Herbert von Halem Verlag, Cologne
Hui Y (2012) What is a digital object? Metaphilosophy 43(4):380–395. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9973.2012.01761.x
Hui Y (2016) On the existence of digital objects. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis
Hui Y (2017) On the Synthesis of Social Memories. In: Blom I, Lundemo T, Røssaak E (eds) Memory in motion: Archives, technology, and the social. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam
Hui Y (2019) Recursivity and contingency. Rowman and Littlefield International, London
Kallinikos J, Aaltonen A, Marton A (2010) A theory of digital objects. First Monday. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v15i6.3033
Kallinikos J, Aaltonen A & Marton A (2013) The ambivalent ontology of digital artifacts. MIS Quart, 37(2):357–370. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.25300/MISQ/2013/37.2.02
Ketelaar E (2017) Archival Turns and Returns: Studies of the Archive. In: Gilliland A J, McKemmish S, & Lau A J (eds) Research in the Archival Multiverse, Monash University Publishing, Clayton
King M (2001) A Guide to Heidegger’s Being and Time. State University of New York Press, Albany
Lagerkvist A (2018) Digital existence: An introduction. In: Lagerkvist A (ed) Digital Existence: Ontology, Ethics and Transcendence in Digital Culture, 1st edn. Routledge, New York
Lemieux V (2018) The future of archives as networked, decentralised, autonomous and global. In: Brown C (ed) Archival Futures, 1st edn. Facet, London
Lemieux V (2001) Let the ghosts speak: an empirical exploration of the “nature” of the record. Archivaria, 51
Lovink G & Hui Y (2016) Digital objects and metadata schemes. e-flux Journal, 78
Lowe E J (2005) Individuation. In: Loux M J & Zimmerman D W (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics Oxford University Press, Oxford
McKemmish S (1994) Are records ever actual? In: McKemmish S, Piggott M (eds) The Records Continuum: Ian Maclean and Australian Archives First Fifty Years. Ancora Press, Melbourne
McKemmish S (2001) Placing records continuum theory and practice. Arch Sci 1(4):333–359. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02438901
McKemmish S (2017) Recordkeeping in the continuum. In: Gilliland AJ, McKemmish S, Lau AJ (eds) Research in the Archival Multiverse. Monash University Publishing, Clayton
McKemmish S & Piggott M (2013) Toward the archival multiverse: challenging the binary opposition of the personal and corporate archive in modern archival theory and practice. Archivaria, 76
Michetti G (2017) Provenance in the Archives: The Challenge of the Digital Environment. In: Smit F, Glaudemans A, and Jonker R (eds) Archives in liquid times. Stichting Archiefpublicaties, ’s-Gravenhage
Mills S (2016) Gilbert Simondon: information, technology, and media. Rowman & Littlefield International, London
Nesmith T (1999) Still fuzzy, but more accurate: some thoughts on the ‘ghosts’ of archival theory’. Archivaria, 47.
Record. In Pearce-Moses R (Ed.), InterPARES Trust Terminology. InterPARES Trust. https://interparestrust.org/terminology/term/record/en
Ridener J (2009) From Polders to Postmodernism: A Concise History of Archival Theory. Litwin Books, Duluth
Robinson H (2020) Substance. In: Zalta E N (ed) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University
Simondon G (2009) The position of the problem of ontogenesis. parrhesia 7:4–16
Smit F (2017) Records, Hyperobjects and Authenticity. In: Smit F, Glaudemans A, and Jonker R (eds) Archives in liquid times. Stichting Archiefpublicaties, ’s-Gravenhage
Society of American Archivists "Digital Object". Society of American Archivists: A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology. https://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/d/digital-object. Accessed 13 Oct. 2020
Society of American Archivists "Electronic Record". Society of American Archivists: A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology. https://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/e/electronic-record. Accessed 13 Oct. 2020
Thibodeau K (2002) Overview of Technological Approaches to Digital Preservation and Challenges in Coming Years. In: The State of Digital Preservation: An International Perspective. CLIR
Upward F (1996) Structuring the records continuum - Part one: postcustodial principles and properties. Archives & Manuscripts, 24(2)
Upward F, & McKemmish S (2001) In search of the lost tiger, by way of Sainte-Beuve: Re-constructing the possibilities in ‘Evidence of me’. Archives & Manuscripts, 29(1)
Upward F, McKemmish S, Reed B (2011) Archivists and changing social and information spaces: a continuum approach to recordkeeping and archiving in online cultures. Archivaria 72:197–237
Upward F, Reed B, Oliver G, Evans J (2013) Recordkeeping informatics: Re-figuring a discipline in crisis with a single minded approach. Records Management J 23(1):37–50
Virno P (2006) Transindividuality, technical activity and reification. Radical Philosophy, 136
Yeo G (2007) Concepts of record (1): evidence, information, and persistent representations. The American Archivist, 70(2)
Yeo G (2012a) The conceptual fonds and the physical collection. Archivaria, 73
Yeo G (2012b) Bringing things together: aggregate records in a digital age. Archivaria, 74
Yeo G (2018) Records, information and data: Exploring the role of record-keeping in an information culture. Facet, London
Zahavi D (2018) Phenomenology The Basics, 1st edn. Routledge, Abingdon
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Rozenberg, S. Digital records as relational objects–Yuk Hui’s concept of digital objects applied to archival science. Arch Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-021-09357-0
- Digital objects
- Digital records
- Yuk Hui