This blog’s purpose

On August 24, 2009, in Methods, Research, by Chris Prom

The practical e-records blog is intended to share information concerning a research project I am directing at the Center for Archive and Information Studies (CAIS) at the University of Dundee. The project aims to evaluate software and conceptual models that archivists and records manager might use to identify preserve, and provide access to electronic records.

Electronic records (as well as analog records) are the artifacts of daily existence left behind by organizations, families and people. They tell the world who we are and what we do. They record our thoughts and our aspirations, our fears and our dreams. As George Orwell pointed out may years ago, individuals and societies cannot retain accurate memories without accurate and complete records. As my colleague Pat Whatley here at CAIS pointed out out to me, Virginia Woolf is reputed to have said, “Nothing has really happened until it is recorded.” Ironically, using online sources, I have been unable to verify the veracity of that quote.

The challenge for archivists lies in ensuring that future generations can verify the veracity of the digital traces we leave behind. The task is doubly tricky since the flood of materials being created is immense. Should we preserve everything? Hardly possible. But how do we decide what to preserve, and how do we preserve it, much less provide access to it.

In this blog, I hope to wrestle with these issues on a practical level and, at the end of the day, come up with a few techniques and recommendations that other archivists and records managers might find useful.  In addition, I’ll probably include a few reflections on the things that my family and I do in Scotland while were here on a Fulbright scholarship.

Hope you find it interesting enough to check back from time to time!

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