The Quest for Defining the Digital Object

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The Quest for Defining the Digital Object


The growth of the web has continuously hastened and prevailed in multiple business models. Therefore, a large number of customers and often non-standardized services that hinder web and mobile application development and sustainability have been influenced. In most cases, web connection objects are incompatible with applications designed for developers.  However, their lifespan remains the same or less than the explicit software lifecycle. The general research approach that motivates the current contribution in literature is the following:

How can we build cognitive cooperative software agents around the World Wide Web, which are amodal representations of specific goals and current or past situations, that can be fed both by existing knowledge distributed around the web and implicit or explicit human knowledge?

To start,  agents focused in the Internet of Things and Smart Cities that comprise of cities that work in a frugal and sound way, by incorporating every one of its substructure and administrations into a unified whole and utilizing insightful gadgets for observing and control, to guarantee maintainability and effectiveness. This treatise thus seeks to discuss and explore the fundamental principles for which smart agents require in different situations. Before we start addressing this issue, we need to define what it would mean from a theoretical point of view for such an agent to accomplish a goal, how it can succeed on that goal, and what are the means to validate its success. This means that we need to explore and define a solid the foundation of what are the inner workings for such imaginary agents.

For humans, the knowledge is mostly implicitly declared for succeeding a specific task, as for example chopping wood. I need an axe, some wood, and I need to apply my chopping techniques to the wood. The implicit knowledge here, most commonly referred to as common knowledge, is that there are two objects and I have to apply the first one to the second by utilizing a specific function. Similarly, we need to define what are the objects and the possible functions of the application that a digital agent can interact with.

First and foremost, this article gives a sneak preview of the concept of digital objects, then discusses and explains the aspect of digital affordances and the correlation between the two. Later, it moves forward to presenting some modern approaches to dealing with digital objects. Finally, the series will conclude by making major deductions from the study.

Digital Objects

Defining the Digital Object

Different literature outline various definitions for digital objects. According to Hui (2012), digital objects can be simply explained as things that are found on the Web including: Facebook profiles, YouTube videos, Instagram pictures, Flickr images, etc that are made up of data, then formalized by patterns, structures or ontologies, which an individual can take a broad view as metadata. These digital objects permeate our daily lives on the web, and it is extremely difficult for users to disconnect or distinguish online from offline content anymore, as pointed out decades ago by the achievement of “jacking into cyberspace.” Paskin (2003) indicates that any name provided to a digital media item should be unique, the meaning of a first class. Therefore, its identity should be independent of the other available digital items.

Morrissey’s (2014) article “How Can We Know the Dancer from the Dance?” adds that digital objects have a restricted set of changeable broad characteristics such as editability, candidness, interactivity, and distributness. It is necessary for a digital object to be authenticated during its creation in a way that conveys a high level of confidence to all the users interacting with it, including successive use by the originator.

A digital object cannot be used without a computing environment in which it can focus in and executed. If the digital world is keen on guaranteeing long-standing usability of digital objects, to enable them to be used regardless of varying formats, hardware, and software, it is essential to preserve the digital objects’ computing environments, or to, at least, collect sufficient data, to enable the computing environment to be reassembled or adjusted to a transformed sphere (Morrissey, 2014). It is important to know the basics of preservation terminologies to understand the importance of preserving digital objects. Its preservation metadata can be explained as the information that is required to allow the conservation of digital objects effectively for a long time to allow their retrieval and deployment in a certain usage at some point (Dappert et al. 2013). Information that defines the adequate elements of the objects’ computing environment of the digital object has to be an element of its preservation metadata. philosophy-jokes-kant-2

Methodologies for creating an Object within the Digital world in the Information Era

Tim (2009) suggests that in the process of digital image creation, the use of computer software and hardware are necessary for the purpose of manipulation and creation of computer effects. Originally, many artists were attracted to digital frugally and soundly they offered creative opportunities that were not possible through traditional means. Various physical elements have been created before and shaped by the different designers over the years trying to fit in the human body. Increasingly, many physical objects have become networked into the Internet. Technology offers the significant interaction merits such that one can handle control as well as check on various things even when not physically present.

Many techniques of printmaking have been consequently considered as a part of a digital process for a specific time, especially those that combine the inkjet printing to the traditional materials of art. Many of those digital procedures include various printmaking techniques rather than traditional mediums, such as a watercolor, photography, and even pastel drawings. Some traditional processes can, however, be reversed through processes such as scanning a traditional technique of printmaking as well as digital manipulation of these images simultaneously (Tim, 2009).

Three-dimension relief surfaces that could include fabric surfaces, woodcarving, and clay, as well can create effects that are as rich as a two-dimension surface in the digital world. Photographs that are taken by a digital camera also form part of the images that are created in the digital era.

Image creation in the digital era is forming images in a developing world and the creation of images that are concurrent to the upcoming technology. It can be referred to also as multi-paradigm programming. For instance, this includes the use of the current applications centric approach in the modification of the various functionality of a light. In such a process, one needs to use a phone and open an application and search for the light in a menu. Eventually, one should access that specific functionality.

Previously, the process requires the tapping of a physical switch and now is seen to require a series of steps. Besides that, in the creation of an object in the digital era, when one has more objects and is most likely to find complications in the applications drop-down menu. These new physical objects created in the digital era are referred to as the hybrid things since they share the best characteristics of the virtual as well as the physical interface. A virtual interface is for the occasional editing as well as learning more about the object. The physical interface, on the other hand, serves as the day to day operations.

Creating an Object in the Information Era

Object creation in the information era presupposes primary programming at a level of real or true information. It is not the creation of objects at the level of information or using the various information programming methods as well as techniques. It includes a focus on the separation of concern only when those concerns are real and true information and data or information oriented. The above process utilizes various visualization methods as well as the analysis of large sets of data that are known mainly for their power as well the unknown patterns of correlation. As a result, several methods have been used to investigate the various sets of data that range from multiscale to multidimensional visualization of the way to the zoom methods as well as clustering and pan. Object creation in the information era is motivated by the current trends and ongoing current information. In this object creation method in the information era, media artists are usually involved. They are, however, not the only ones that explore this field. The digital archives are beginning to surround this field as well.

The field primarily deals with the interrelations between social sciences as well as human and computer interactions. Researchers, however, claim that the nature of the complications arising from the interrelations between social sciences and computer-related interactions are so complex, and thoughts show that the data analysis is too limited (Ross, 2008). Object creation in the information era uses a visualization approach that is done by allowing their work to be inspired by the natural happening that could include the formation of various rocks. It, therefore, makes it easy for us to understand the affordances as well as the constraints of a particular happening. It forms key ingredients to the creation of a historical visualization.

People hold on to the various archives that were created in a particular information era. Such archives give a visual feel and a realistic view of what happened at a particular time in history (Nadine & Dirk, 2009). Therefore, the objects created in a particular information era are stored in museums and national archives. We tend to feel they are important to us and their meaning is not only embedded in particular messages and scenes, but they also represent their creation time.

Ontological and formal approaches to the Digital Object

Couclelis (2010) illustrates that in the works presented by Edward Fredkin and Stephen Wolfram, there is a wide assumption that digital objects are simply bits or (and) bytes in the fields of ordinal physics in addition to digital ontology. There are two main concepts that are prevalent in the concept of a digital ontology. First, the notion that bits are an atomic symbol representing information state; and another, that the time-based state of progression is a digital information process (Attila, 2009; Karanasios et al., 2013). The second argument exemplifies a lengthy historic argument between humanism and cybernetics (Couclelis, 2010). It is also worthy of considering the arguments of activity theory in this discussion which is first, relevant to advance more perceptive theoretical models of ill-defined activities (Karanasios et al., 2013). Second, important in a way that can be applicable in enlightening the progress of ontology, and thirdly, that the said ontology might be drawn upon to pave the way for semantic intensification of digital traces used in extracting logic of the phenomena.

The pertinent ontologies in this discussion are classified as upper-level ontologies that allege to explain important concepts as well as relationships that is realized by means of fields. In contradictory, there are more specific domain ontologies that are personalized to the prerequisites of certain spheres of discourse. Hamid & Fernando (2009) offer an extensive outline and argument of the metaphysical, theoretical, official, and hands-on questions raised by upper-level ontologies then put forward a number of different arrays of principles that can be used for their organization. Most pertinent are variances based on varied understandings of the type of the perceptions epitomized in ontology in addition the kind of representation and molding more largely. In most instances, these perceptions are anticipated to openly characterize matching everyday entities (Jan, 2008). Other ontologies champions are intellectual/etymological perspective dependable with the twentieth-century investigative viewpoint, concentrating on the semantics of computer language terms and the means these configuration social identifications of space depict (Jan, 2008).

With relation to, but dissimilar from Couclelis (2010), the latter ontologies are now built on the evidence of rational semantics, a methodology to three-dimensional cognition embodied in the work of insightful linguists for the example described by Fernando (2009). There are additional ontologies as well as ontological sketches with a variegated approach and others strive to incorporate the all-inclusive scale of experimental authenticity as seen from a spatial viewpoint, comprising intellectual characteristics such as societal and experimental. These suggestions are continuously categorized, comprising of ‘levels,’ ‘worlds,’ ‘realities” or ‘spaces’ and they have a tendency to be legitimately analogous in value. As Couclelis (2010) discusses, ontology consists of an idea of a hierarchy containing scientific space, somatic being, socioeconomic space, communication space, and experiential space. Dappert (2013) ontology consists of a physical, practical, natural, premeditated, and community levels. Karen (2008) projected levels are somatic, discernible, article world, societal, and intellectual agents reality. There have been numerous struggles along the same lines, all of which are valuable and instinctively plausible but they have a the tendency to lack a prescribed rationalization for the description and imperative of the echelons, over and above a methodical technique for ascending and descending the ladder (Aleida, 2008). The structure is shown in this case takes a much-altered approach, propositioning a constructivist line of attack that produces a pecking order founded on a disciplined retrenchment of semantic information (Deanna, 2003). Theoretically, the style is contiguous to the performer and realist viewpoints of knowledge that have a tendency to be impartial on the the issue of outside genuineness but center in its place on looking for the most creative explanations of specific problems.

It is not possible to have a comprehensive description of digital objects without creating the relationship between the preservation of a computing environment and digital objects. The preservation of computing environments where the digital objects are executed is accomplished through metadata. Metadata can be further defined as information regarding an object that is required to bring about that object. On the other hand, Digital Preservation Metadata is the nature of the evidence that must be used to preserve digital objects well and in the continuing to be used in the future.

Core metadata for the digital preservation of every type of digital object is specified in the PREMIS Data Dictionary (PREMIS Data Dictionary version 2.2), a de-facto standard. Core metadata is the metadata that must be in use in almost all preservation repositories (Hui, 2012), instead of submission or content specific metadata meant for niche applications. Metadata around digital objects’ computing environments should always be preserved in one place with the digital objects as a component of their core metadata (Lawrence, 1999; Lynne, 2009). On top of giving a description of an Object’s Representation Information, other kinds of computing environments (Birger, 2000), software, for instance, can themselves be the main digital objects of preservation, as we often see in computer games. They may also assume the function of a software Agent in a preservation Event, and they may need a detailed metadata account for those reasons.

Blogs, videos, photos and other forms of social media generated by the user online contains a wide source of individual experiences or what we can call “digital traces” (Hui, 2012). The process of developing digital objects in the web space begins by understanding human behavior. However, there has been little or no use of digital traces to give an understanding of human behavior (Fernando, 2009). This process can be challenging for the most part, but recently links have been made using ontological approaches to tagging and link digital traces, with much progress into the ontology models. In order to understand the creation of digital objects with more clarity, it is more helpful to begin by understanding the role of digital traces in shaping human behavior (Ross, 2008).  

The diverse Perspectives

The interaction of humans with digital objects is usually and relatively an understudied aspect of human versus computers interactions (Claudio, 2007). The role of digital objects in day-to-day activities increases gradually. Studies have shown that the ubiquity of digital objects tends to hide their potential significance. Various related factors do hide the physical existence of the various digital objects to start with, the virtual aspect of a digital object usually is the one that we see and relate as well as interact with. Storage media on which there is a physical inscription of the digital objects are usually enclosed in a housing that normally hides those digital objects from the user (Benoit & Hussey, 2011).

Secondly, the virtual aspect of the object can be perceived in many layers of abstraction and is obtained away from the physical aspect. A computer design could encourage the interpretation of the digital objects as not being real. Thirdly, those physically inscribed objects that usually compose a digital object could appear as not real since a human eye cannot read them. These factors are related and combined to enable as well as to encourage the user to ignore everything apart from the virtual aspect of a digital object in their day-to-day interactions with these objects.

The claims that several users consider those digital objects to be unreal are supported by the recent work conducted on the interactions between computers and human beings. In various studies, that have been conducted to investigate the perception of people on digital possessions present in cloud storage, there were findings that the feelings of people about these digital possessions would be perfectly described as either uncertainty or uneasiness. Studies also show that possession does difficult especially when the thing possessed has no geographical locale in the user’s experience (Neil & Williams, 2009).

Various scholars in the different fields have done the engagement of the materiality of the digital objects from various and different perspectives. Many, however, do acknowledge the complex nature of those objects. The study of material culture also depicts that identity construction can be tied closely to the consumption and various material objects. It has been observed that one and the most important way that we relate to each other as well as to ourselves is through the material objects. Virtual reality is usually very immersive, and it means that this is a medium whose main purpose is to disappear. This act proves to be difficult when it comes to the apparatus required by the virtual reality.

To create what could be referred to as a sense of presence, visual reality should come as close as possible to our day-to-day visual experiences. Its graphic space should be in a continuous process and should be full of objects. The logic of transparent closeness are usually at per with the non-immersive digital graphics. Digital graphics have become consistently popular as well as lucrative and are continuously leading to a new definition of the computer. In the 20th century, computers were regarded primarily as numerical engines as well as word processors. Today, computers are regarded as image processors, devices for reworking photographs as well as holding videoconferences and providing special effects and animation for film and television.  The desktops which replaced the command line interface assimilates the computer to the physical desktop as well as materials.

The transparent computer interface is a manifestation of the need to deny a mediated character of digital technology. With digital technology, we have moved beyond the meditation and assert the unique nature of the present technological moment. Many people believe that virtual reality completes as well as overcomes the history of the media (Thomasson, 2007). For the immediacy of computer graphics to be fully understood, it is vital to grasp the various ways in which painting, film, photography as well as television, have tried to satisfy the same desire. Automating the method of linear perspective is one way that can lead the achievement of linear transparency. This automaticity quality has been associated with the technology of the obscure of the camera and hence to film, photography and television as well. The subsequent invention of photography over the years has led to the perfection of the linear perspective (Neil & Williams, 2009).

Digital graphics create various images in perspective but also applies to the perspective the rigor of linear algebra as well as projective geometry. The projective images that are generated from computers are considered mathematically perfect. Computer graphics express color, shading, and illumination as well as various mathematical terms. However, they are less successful than perspective. In perspective painting, computer graphics lays several claims to the real. It does seem to be appealing to the Cartesian proposition.

Digital graphics automatic nature implies that there is an affinity for photography.  In the case of photography, the automatic process is both chemical and mechanical. Digital graphics and images are as a result of the works of humans and its agency is often delayed so far from the drawing act that it seems to disappear.

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