Digitale Objekte

Schwardmann, U., 2020. Digital Objects – FAIR Digital Objects: Which Services Are Required?. Data Science Journal, 19(1), p.15. DOI:

Digital Objects

A first step of abstraction, thus virtualization and encapsulation, of data is the identification of minimal elements that are to some degree atomic from the perspective of data management and reuse. Already more than twentyfive years ago these elements have been called digital objects, as described in a reprint of an article from 1995 (Kahn, Wilensky 2006), which was reused and adapted by the RDA (RDA 2019) working group on “Data Foundations and Terminology” (Berg-Cross 2015). They can be thought as some generalization of files in local file systems or streams of streaming providers for instance, and they are embedded in a structure of other important data concepts as one can see in Figure 1 below.

The FAIR principles

The FAIR approach has been defined much later, about three years ago, as “Data and services that are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable both for machines and for people” articulated by fifteen high-level principles (Wilkinson et al. 2016).

Figure 1

The Digital Object (DO) embedded in a structure of other important data elements and concepts.

As mentioned before the FAIR principles as well as the notion of the digital object emphasize a close coupling between metadata, data and the persistent identifier as pointer. With the abstract structures of the FDO this becomes more explicit. Already in the early RDA working groups “PID Information Types” and “Data Type Registries” the coupling was made even tighter by allowing certain kinds of metadata to become part of the identifier record in the resolution database. Such metadata is called PID information type and build, as shown in Figure 2, a substantial encapsulation of complexity into a generic structure.

Figure 2

Encapsulation of the digital object, metadata and interfaces for services into a single logical element referenced by a persistent identifier.