This question came up at the last Editorial Committee call and we
decided to test the waters by asking the PIG: Should we use a different
term for "representation"?
In PREMIS, a representation is defined as a "Digital Object
instantiating or embodying an Intellectual Entity. A representation is
the set of stored Files and structural metadata needed to provide a
complete and reasonable rendition of the Intellectual Entity." All
semantic units in the PREMIS data dictionary are defined as appropriate
to Files, Bitstreams or Representations.
The original working group used the term "representation" partly to
avoid confusion with the FRBR term "manifestation". The two concepts
are close enough to cause confusion but not identical. We were aware of
the meaning of "representation information" in OAIS, but we thought the
OAIS concept and the PREMIS concept were different enough that there
would be no confusion.
I'm not sure that has been the case. There does seem to be some
confusion over what a PREMIS representation is, but I don't know if any
of it is due to confusion with the OAIS representation.
In any case, it may not be wise to use the same term with two different
meanings within the same (preservation) community. So, should we try to
come up with a different term for the PREMIS representation now, as the
Data Dictionary is being revised? Or leave it be, since nobody has
actually complained about the term (that we know).
And those who think we should use another term, what term might be
preferable? I have thought of "rendition" but the US Government
printing office uses that term in their FDsys with a different meaning,
as an "Instance of a publication expressed using a specific digital
format". Something has to convey the idea that a representation may
consist of more than one file, and that the files can have different
formats. Perhaps "assembly"?