Tag Archives: language

“Digital forensics”

Now and then I see talk about “digital forensics.” It’s never clear what it’s supposed to mean. “Forensic” means “belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts of judicature or to public discussion and debate.” In popular usage, it’s generally applied to criminal investigations, especially in the phrase “forensic medicine.”

Some activities could be called digital forensics, where digital methods help to resolve contentious issues. For instance, textual analysis might shed light on an author’s identity. Digital techniques can even solve crimes. Too often, though, the term is getting stretched beyond meaningfulness, to the point that routine curation practices are called “forensics.”

No doubt it feels glamorous to think of oneself as the CSI of libraries, but let’s not get carried away with buzzwords.