For the R.E.M. album, see Document (album). For the similarly-named Surrealist journal, see Documents (journal).
A document (noun from latin documentum [second declension, gen documentī]: lesson, instruction, warning), is a bounded physical or digital representation of a body of information designed with the capacity (and usually intent) to communicate. A document may manifest symbolic,diagrammatic or sensory-representational information. To document (verb) is to produce a document artifact by collecting and representing information. In prototypical usage, a document is understood as a paper artifact, containing information in the form of ink marks. Increasingly documents are also understood as digital artifacts.
Colloquial usage is revealed by the connotations anddenotations that appear in a Web search for document. From these usages, one can infer the following typical connotations:
Writing that provides information person's thinking by means of symbolic marks.
A written account of ownership or obligation.
To record in detail; "The parents documented every step of their child's development".
A digital file in a particular format.
To support or supply withreferences; "Can you document your claims?".
An artifact that meets a legal notion of document for purposes of discovery in litigation.
Document is the practical construct for describing matter in different forms which retain information for a reasonable period of time wherein it can be perceived by a sentient observing entity.
The variety usage reveals that the notion of document has richsocial and cultural aspects besides the physical, functional and operational aspects.
Document is just a practical concept which presently would be defined narrowly based on human understanding and perception of the external world.
Document in its wider connotation could include matter in all its forms, even a universe could be perceived as a document on a wider scale.
The practicalconstruct requires the retention of information but the relevance of the information (utility, value are not decided as these depend upon the objectives of the user and the purpose for which he accesses the information)
The information must also be with reference to the observing entity be retained for a reasonable period of time wherein it can be observed. Fleeting images which cannot be seen arealmost as if never observed.
The notion of document admits both an empirical (in terms of a fuzzy set of real-world instances) and analytical characterization. The analytical characterization hinges on the semantic character of the word document, as well as the use of a primitive notion of document in accounts of larger communication constructs such as discourses, or related constructs such aslanguage games.
The nominal 'document', like other nominals, exhibits familiar patterns of polysemy (a kind of ambiguity). For example, "document" might be used on an occasion to denote a certain body of information independently of how that information is physically rendered (as in 'the Bible is my favorite document.'; 'Have you finished reading all the documents for Monday's class yet?'), or itmight be used to denote a particular physical instantiation of a body of information (as in 'that document is worn and needs to be re-bound.'; 'Return the documents you borrowed to the reference desk.'). This kind of polysemy bears some similarity to what Nunberg, 1979 termed "container/contents polysemy" (as in 'Mary broke the bottle' versus 'the baby finished the bottle'). These patterns ofpolysemy exhibited by 'document' matter for the following reason. A certain document qua body of information (e.g. the Bible, not a particular bound copy thereof) will have different properties than a document qua physical rendering of a body of information (e.g. a particular bound copy of the Bible). Importantly, the latter would have the property of being a static, physically bounded thing. The...
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