Premis – Keeping Digital Files Relevant and Accessible

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Premis is a defender of data and digital information. It is a group formed to keep files relevant throughout all potential changes in technology. Learn more about the ways it prevents users from losing important information.

What Is Premis?

Premis is a pseudo-acronym that stands for PREservation Metadata Implementation Strategies. It is a group initiative aimed to keep all outdated technological computer documents and files accessible forever in the midst of constant computer technology advances. It is essentially a group fighting to keep important data viable.

A good example of the importance of Premis is VHS tapes. Technology changed to DVD so VCRs were no longer made. VHS tapes that weren’t produced on the next technological format ran the risk of being unplayable once VCRs were completely gone. Also, the box of the film may have had valuable information printed onto it. The info on the box is the metadata of a file. The VHS is the file itself. The technology has changed and important documents run the risk of being inaccessible. Premis is fighting to stop this.

Metadata requirements in a flow chart.
Premis preserves data and authorship of files.

How Is Premis Used?

Premis is used to secure both functionality of a digital object and intellectual property rights of the piece of data. It is a dual approach to keep an item applicable throughout all possible future technological changes. It also secures the copyrights, ownership and creation information about the document or file. For example, if an author includes his or her name within a created file, that information is secured and preserved through changes to applications which open the data.

This is where metadata comes into the equation. Metadata is data about other data. For example, an image file will have descriptors about its date, author or other things. This is the metadata. Premis aims to secure the original metadata of a file so that important information about it, including ownership, stays intact. The Premis metadata protection of a file gives it proper context and other valuable information.

A flow chart explaining Premis.
Premis keeps metadata attached to older files.

Why Is Premis Used?

The idea of losing valuable information, creative works and metadata of important files is the reason Premis formed. It birthed at a time of drastic changes in technology and it continues to strategize ways to ensure the original importance of data isn’t compromised.

Premis is ultimately used to preserve information and increase exchange of information. The Premis groups formed and began strategizing ways to uphold metadata of a file. This led to optimizing the encoding of metadata during the evolution of technology.

Premis is working to keep authorship, information and other sensitive data alive and accessible through changes in technology. It acts as a record keeper for future generations and it’s very important to maintain. Recognize how valuable it is as you notice the way your own technology use changes.

Casey Schmidt – Content Manager and Industry Expert | Canto

Casey Schmidt is a content manager at Canto who enjoys taking complex subjects and making them easy to understand for readers.