Digital records as relational objects–Yuk Hui’s concept of digital objects applied to archival science

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Sebastian Rozenberg.

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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

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Keywords

  • Digital objects
  • Digital records
  • Ontology
  • Ontologies
  • Phenomenology
  • Yuk Hui