At the suggestion of OU professor Doc Martens, I’m transferring some of my thoughts and comments that have been housed on our online discussion board to this blogging forum.
Today’s thoughts were sparked by the newly released First Monday paper entitled “Machines in the archives: Technology and the coming transformation of archival reference” by Richard J. Cox and the University of Pittsburgh archives students. In the article personal computers are recognized as the catalyst for the transformation, allowing a narrowing of the gap between past and present. I began applying the authors’ assumptions to my own life…
As I read the article I began wondering, aren’t archivists and knowledge managers one in the same? I agree that figuring out how to get information “out from the basement”–whether literally or “cyberally”–and into the hands of those who need and can use it is a REAL problem. I keep thinking about a professor who went into great detail at the Tulsa KPM Symposium about video-taping corporate and project managers. As I listened I thought: if I’m in the middle of a project, which usually means a crisis, am I going to take the time to “search” the metadata of oral interviews, let alone watch one? If the tape was in an easy-to-find google-like database and You-tubed for brevity, maybe. Seems to me that tagging is the key to a lot of this “archiving” of information.
At Saint Francis Health System we continue to attempt to get management to archive e-mails. The IS department keeps telling us the volume is too great. I agree it IS unmanagably voluminous; however, important decisions and policies are documented ONLY in the e-mails. As we’re gathering old paper documents for the archives and for the purpose of writing the 50th anniversary book, the scarcity of such is unfortunate. Now that most of those memos and newsletters are digital and not preserved in an electronic archive by way of machines I keep wondering what the people who are writing the 100th anniversary book are going to reference?!? Or maybe there won’t be books then?!?