A Measurement Framework for Evaluating Emulators for Digital Preservation

Mark Guttenbrunner, Andreas Rauber; SBA;
ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS)
ISSN: 1046-8188 EISSN:1558-2868
Volume 30, Number 2, May 2012, Article 14 (28 pages)

Accessible emulation is often the method of choice for maintaining digital objects, specifically complex ones such as applications, business processes or electronic art. However, validating the emulator's ability to faithfully reproduce the original behavior of digital objects is complicated.
This article presents an evaluation framework and a set of tests that allow assessment of the degree to which system emulation preserves original characteristics and thus significant properties of digital artifacts. The original system, hardware and software properties are described. Identical environment is then recreated via emulation. Automated user input is used to eliminate potential confounders. The properties of a rendered form of the object are then extracted automatically or manually either in a target state, a series of states, or as a continuous stream. The concepts described in this paper enable preservation planners to evaluate how
emulation a
ects the behavior of digital objects compared to their behavior in the original environment. We also review how these principles can and should be applied to the evaluation of migration and other preservation strategies as a general principle of evaluating the invocation and faithful rendering of digital objects and systems.