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IMS5048: Information Continuum -- Lecture 2

Week 2: Information Management and the Continuum

Contents:

1.Views on Information Management.

2.Emergence of Information Work and Information Professions.

3.Information Genres and Professional Specialisations.

4.Information as Evidence, Knowledge (awareness) and Infotainment.

Introduction to Information Management in the Continuum.

In this subject we define the mission of information management as follows:

to help the development of organisations, communities, and individuals by improving information flows and recorded memory.

We see information management as an overarching multidisciplinary professional base. Within it are specialist professional practices including notably knowledge management, recordkeeping, librarianship, and also aspects of publishing, journalism, editing, multimedia development. It is closely related to cognitive science disciplines in information systems, and to decision support systems, and shares much theoretical and practical common ground with them. For example data warehousing, data mining, metadata, project management, information retrieval and integrated document and workflow management are major concerns for both information management and information systems. In information management the emphasis is on processes and methods of use.

1: Views on Information Management.

For centuries in Europe and Asia the curatorial role of information-keepers was their most highly-valued attribute. Thus, without the vast collecting system of the public Library at Alexandria in Egypt from about 2,300 BP, the survival of Greek and Roman writers (mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, political commentators, dramatists) would not have occurred. The following readings put different emphases on information management today. Kirk focuses on the management of information flow and transfer, a perspective strongly influenced by librarianship traditions. Turban et al look at the management of information systems and its relationship to information management, while Wilson considers how managing corporate information can provide the key to survival and success in the business world.

Reading, all digitized.

Kirk, J. (1996). Definitional problems in information management. In J. M. Brittain

(ed.), Introduction to information management (pp. 9-21). Wagga Wagga, NSW:

Charles Sturt University, Centre for Information Studies.

Turban, E., McLean, E., & Wetherbee, J. (1996). Information technology for

management: Improving quality and productivity . New York: Wiley (Chapter 1, pp.58-64).

Wilson, D.A. (1997). Managing information . (2nd ed.). Oxford: Butterworth Heineman (Chapter 1, pp.1-17).

2: Emergence of Information Professions.

When Professor Don Schauder first came to Monash in 1995, there was no unified theory about the information that connected librarianship, archives and records, as the Department was then focused on. Apart from the fact that all the above activities dealt with text, there was little else that they had in common at that time in an abstract sense, as rationale. Records were to provide evidence of what had occurred. Libraries selected published texts for general use. (Special libraries were an exception, in the sense that they tried to provide all knowledge on a special topic, as much as possible). At that time, three Monash staff – Frank Upward, Sue McKemmish, and Barbara Reed – were developing a metadata standard for wide acceptance.

In parallel, communications theory was developing, and specifically David Kaufer and Kathleen Carley had just published their major work about communicative transactions. Information and communications technologies were spreading very rapidly into most professional spheres. Replication of texts online was increasing fast. The potential for multiple uses of multiple texts emerged. The time was ripe for synthesis in theory. In an electronic world, archival and present records, ephemeral and permanent records, are one and the same. The number of access points to them is infinite in theory. Duplication became extremely cheap. Widespread simultaneity of creation and use was possible for the first time.

2.1.Capturing content and context.

At the heart of the ICM are ideas about content and context. It is a teaching model, and there are few academic critiques of it as a whole. It is a work in progress, always evolving and changing.


Some underlying theories about content and context behind the model are not new. Anthony Giddens transmitted the thinking of prior sociologists, economists, political scientists, and other theorists, into late twentieth-century situations, providing modern insights into the uses of Marx, Hegel, and others, to a postmodern society. Giddens brought together ideas from politics, sociology, philosophy, communications theory and psychology, to show how knowledge is transmitted across time and space. Knowledge transmission he related to ‘structuration theory'. When he began writing, ‘knowledge management' had not been described in its current form.

2.2.Accreditation, extensions, and the precision of the model.

The School of Information Management and Systems adopted the ICM as a unifying theoretical basis for a lot of its work, and when (for instance) Professor Ross Todd (Rutgers University, http://scils.rutgers.edu/~rtodd/) visited Monash to accredit its courses, he was very laudatory of its value. It is seen as original and insightful, a way of describing the modern world of ICT and KM. Professional groups find virtue in disciplinary territory, applied knowledge, core competencies.

The ICM provides a means to relate various parts of the information world together, and to find a special focus for them. How well does it all fit together? The ICM is not owned by any one person or group; it is not copyrightable in its own right. It has been expanded in different directions in scholarly collaborations – e.g., Professor Graeme Shanks, with an IS background, now Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of IT, has used it (1997), in ‘Challenges of strategic data planning in practice: an interpretive case study', digitised on the 5048 reading list).

One of the uses of the ICM is that it places information to the foreground in depicting interpretations of social reality. Knowledge has assumed greater significance than ever before, not just in an academic sense, but in many aspects of Western thought, production and work. This requires acknowledgement as theory. Two major developments have assisted in the emergence of knowledge as a more powerful social force. When Karl Marx analysed class conflict, the generation of wealth, work and social status, in the nineteenth century, the value of labour was much more tied up in physical resources than it is today in the developed world. Another significant movement was the change from rampant scientism and reductionist thinking about explanations of the physical universe in the early twentieth century, to a modification in Western thinking brought about by acceptance of relativistic hermeneutics and the revival of humanistic value systems in many spheres of life. Inflexible, precise models are no longer seen as acceptable explanations for everything.

2.3.How the model is intended to work.

It was hard to depict parts of the big picture in the ICM. At the time of development, the main problem revolved around how much could be standardized. Not everything fits neatly, but then it never does fit exactly in any large model. Some parts of the ICM are instinctive, some very abstract. Some parts can be ‘proved' in a very rational way. Others can only be loosely described – e.g., a level of social control of information has to be depicted as evenly as possible, perhaps vaguely.

Any part of the ICM might include levels of meaning – e.g., there are layers of standards (technical protocols in the Internet). Currently Australian government websites are chaotic, not accepting responsibility well for accountability requirements. There is a reluctance on government sites to acknowledge that certain documents are official, as official as can be. A law is a law, a rule is a rule, and dressing it up on a decorative website need not distract from that fundamental function. One e-text has the potential of any other form of that text. Disclaimers on web documents are used with excessive abandon.

The Australian government has expended enormous amounts of money and effort on building a market for e-commerce, using this push as a driver of e-communication, with limited success. By taking a narrow view, it has overlooked many other important facets shown in the ICM. The model can be used as a means to balance, to audit, to assess the equity and distribution of knowledge transactions.

Reading, digitised.

Schement, J.R., & Curtis, T. (1995). Tendencies and tensions of the information age:

The production and distribution of information in the United States . New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers (Chapter 3, pp 71-101).

3: Information Genres and Professional Specialisations.

In this part we consider the concept of information genre and go on to look specifically at the roles of recordkeepers and librarians as specialists in the information management field who manage different genres of information. In what follows we attempt to ‘demarcate' the work of librarians and recordkeeping professionals, on the basis of the ‘genre' of information which they manage. It is argued that the genre somewhat determines the different practices.

Librarians are mainly concerned with managing genres of information that function as information products which inform, perpetuate knowledge, affirm culture, convey ideas, feelings and opinions, and entertain. Such information products are usually published, broadcast, or widely communicated and disseminated by many means other than by libraries. Virtual libraries, web portals, and e-publishing, expand the library ambit enormously.

Recordkeepers (records managers and archivists) are responsible for managing recorded information that documents social and organisational activity as evidence. These ‘archival documents' provide proof of personal, business and cultural activity, enabling us to account for what we do to each other. They establish personal and cultural identity, and function as personal, corporate or collective memory. As instruments of power and authority, they regulate and control business and social relationships between people and organisations.

It is important, however, when making this kind of distinction to keep in mind that records of social and organisational activity can also function as information products and that published information can function as evidence, i.e., all recorded information potentially has multiple purposes and can function as both evidence and information product.

The following readings provide interesting perspectives on the concept of genres of information.

Readings.

Agre, P. (1995). Institutional circuitry: Thinking about the forms and uses of information (pp.1-8). Available: http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/ .

Giddens, A. (1997). Sociology. (3rd ed.) Cambridge: Polity Press (pp.375-377). Digitised.

3.3.Penguin paperbacks: why were they popular?

There are a number of useful examples of ‘genre' that can be explored further for IC analysis. One very popular genre was the Penguin paperback in the last century. See, for example, the account of the first Penguin paperbacks from http://www.penguin.co.uk/static/packages/uk/aboutus/firstten.html:

Edward Young's design for the first ten covers of the newly established reprint series in July 1935 proved to be more than just a sensible response to the demand for cheap , effective layout. The combination of Gill Sans-Serif Bold, broad colour bands and convenient size was to become the formula which Penguin would keep for its fiction titles until the early fifties, and its ghost would haunt even later reforms.

Good typefaces, based on the classical faces of the Renaissance and seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had been made available for machine composition increasingly during the 1920s by the work of Beatrice Warde and Stanley Morison at the Monotype Corporation. Instilled with the principles of the Arts and Crafts reform movement, which had their earlier impact on the private presses, the revision of old types was complemented by the commission of new faces. In this way Eric Gill had been asked to translate to a typeface Edward Johnston's sign lettering, seen since 1916 on the stations of the London Underground. For the texts, the first Penguins made use of Stanley Morison's Times New Roman of 1931. Therefore, as they appeared in the first series of ten, the books had a happy combination of novelty and familiarity : they evoked something fresh and modern, while not being so rarefied or 'moderne' as to discourage the customer from picking them up.

 

 

Richard Hoggart has analysed his initial reaction:

Just why Penguins were able to enlist this degree of enthusiasm - and to command a kind of loyalty - is worth teasing out. They were very cheap of course and attractively presented - they looked neither meretriciously glossy nor ponderously dull. They gave us the chance to own, say, some good contemporary novels and essays .... whereas before we had been almost confined to secondhand copies of older writers.

Richard Hoggart: 'The Reader', Penguins Progress 1935-1960, Penguin Books, 1960.


Hoggart isolates the books' cheapness and contemporaneity as two important features which attracted him and would determine their success. They were aspects which the rest of the publishing world had forecast as their potential undoing. However, Allen Lane was convinced that his estimate of the likely market and the quantity of reprints that would be needed was right. Hoggart at this time was a sixteen-year-old grammar school boy in a provincial town. His interest in such a series symbolizes a reaction against Edwardian culture and the stuffiness and insularity in which he had grown up.

In terms of design, Allen Lane acknowledged the influence of German reprint series. Many of the characteristics of Penguin's design were already evident in the Albatros series of reprints. Albatros books, themselves based on the Tauchnitz editions of Leipzig started in 1842, were founded in Hamburg in 1932 by J.Holroyd-Reece, Max Christian Wegner and Kurt Enoch. Albatros had been the first to colour-code their series by genre -- blue for love stories, green for travel, orange for novels and short stories and so on. The size (181 x 111 mm) was based on the requirements of standardized production, but also happens to relate approximately to the Golden Section, a feature which was to satisfy designers for Penguin throughout its subsequent developments. Albatros, like Penguin, had typographical covers with the title in sans-serif capitals and made a feature of their bird colophon. The typographer was Hans (Giovanni) Madersteig, who produced a well-spaced, evenly toned page, in contrast to Tauchnitz's rather badly crowded page.

At first Penguin books were produced with dust-jackets covering the paperback covers. They also included a description of the author and a small photograph, initially inside of the dust-jacket, then on the rear cover.

The look of Penguins was partly determined by the facilities the printer could provide and partly by the specifications of the production team. In the early years, design fell into the sphere of production, with Edward Young, Bob Maynard and John Overton, as successive Production Managers, devising layouts and making decisions about typography. The separation of design from production and then cover artwork from typography at Penguin reflected broader changes which acknowledges the growth of the graphic design profession in Britain which was to accelerate after 1945.

3.2.Cuneiform, the first known writing: why was it popular?

The beginnings of human writing date from about 4,000-3,000 B.C. in Sumer (modern Iraq). Cuneiform was developed in Sumer for farming trade , payment of wages , and later for monarchical memory-keeping , religion and story-telling . The first writing tells us a lot about the reasons why information was needed, managed and used. Spreadsheets were probably invented by the Sumerians.

Why was writing needed at all? The growth of complex irrigation and trade systems required co-ordinated labour and transfer of information in the middle of the 4th

millenium BC in ancient Mesopotamia, which led to the need for a way of recording

information transfer across time, for a growing and specialised and urbanised

population . Clay is malleable, yet permanent --- wedges marked in the clay are called cuneiform. There was plenty of mud in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. Early clay balls containing actual shaped tokens -- representing a number and a type of animal -- developed in the space of a century or so into pictographic representations of objects and number.

Source: Archaelological Research Collection, University of Southern California, at: http://cdli.ucla.edu/dl/photo/P235315.jpg:


About a century after that, actual language is recorded, i.e., records of words in a particular language, not just 'number' which could be in any language.

This represents an extraordinary step for the people involved -- abstraction about language and the development of a recording system for 'visible language' . Texts were originally in Sumerian, then Akkadian, but Sumerian was preserved as a formal language, like Latin.

The Sumerian sexagesimal mathematical system survives today in minutes in an hour and in aspects of geography. Sumerian measures such as cubits and kors were recorded in the Bible.

Very early on, this learning was formalised -- lots of student 'exercises' remain as evidence of learning to write, in scribal schools . Development of standardised spreadsheets and classification systems came to be used across the ancient Middle East. The last cuneiform text was created in the first century AD, so it lasted for 4,000 years! Some parts of the Sumerian language, cuneiform, were carried over into later languages, viz., Akkadian, Greek and Hebrew.

Readings.

1.http://cdli.ucla.edu/ (Lots of pictures of very old tablets).

2. Archaic Bookkeeping: Early Writing and Techniques of Economic Administration in the Ancient Near East , by Hans Jèorg Nissen, Robert K. Englund, Peter Damerow, Paul Larsen (Translator). University of Chicago Press, December 1993 --- the fundamental research work on this period for the general reader.

3. Bottéro, Jean, Everyday life in ancient Mesopotamia ; with contributions from André Finet, Bertrand Lafont, and Georges Roux; translated by Antonia Nevill. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001.

3.3. Introducing the Recordkeeping (or Records Management and Archives) perspective.

The recordkeeping profession is concerned with the capture, maintenance and delivery of records of social and organizational activity that satisfy

•  business needs,

•  social needs,

•  cultural needs,

for essential, accessible, useable evidence. In order to fulfil its role, the profession is involved in establishing, managing and monitoring coherent regimes of integrated recordkeeping and archiving processes.

The useful records (genres) in this field of activity need to be

•  complete, accurate and reliable,

•  evidence of the transactions of which they are part,

•  linked to the transaction from which they derive their meanings and value.

Such recordkeeping frameworks:

•  facilitate governance,

•  underpin accountability,

•  constitute memory,

•  construct identity,

•  provide authoritative sources of value-added information.

The records that records managers and archivists manage for society and its organisations are created in the course of transacting business of any kind, whether by governments, businesses, community organisations or individuals. Records may be stored in any medium. Their meaning and informational value essentially derive from the processes of which they are a part. Their effective management throughout their life span is critical to the role they play in our society contemporaneously and over time. The following reading explores the role that records play in establishing the preconditions for an information-rich society, and in underpinning the accountability of government and non government organisations, freedom of information and privacy legislation, the protection of people's rights and entitlements, and the quality of our corporate and collective memories.

The following reading relates to the distinctive characteristics of 'accountability documents' -- a crucial recordkeeping concept -- and the role of recordkeeping professionals in society to manage this ‘genre' of recorded information.

Reading.

McKemmish, S., & Upward, F. (1991). The archival document: A submission to the inquiry into Australia as an information society. Archives and Manuscripts, 19 (1), 17-30.

Soergel, D. (1998). An information science manifesto. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, Dec./Jan., 10-12. At: http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-97/soergel.htm.

Reflection.

Consider the concept of the archival document presented by McKemmish and Upward. Does this concept and related views on the role of recordkeeping professionals fit into the views on information management presented in the readings in part 2?

Recordkeeping professionals help manage records from the time they are created for as long as they are of value whether that be a nanosecond or millennia. Increasingly their work is seen as managing a continuum of integrated recordkeeping and archiving processes that enable records to be carried forward through time and space and to be delivered to users living in other times and places.

In recent years, the records and archives industry in Australia has been developing a set of competency standards which captures the core competencies of the recordkeeping professional, as summarised in the following Table:


Column 1:

General competencies.

•  These infiltrate / affect all areas of the recordkeeping regime within an organisation. They relate to:

•  Defining recordkeeping requirements

•  Determining accountabilities, risks and responsibilities

•  Developing policies and standards

•  Strategic planning for recordkeeping

•  Providing recordkeeping consultancies

•  Auditing compliance

•  Providing user training.

Column 2:

Designing, creating & using systems that keep records.

This designates the stream of activities which establish systems to fulfil identified recordkeeping requirements. It includes the following activities:

•  Determining recordkeeping system requirements

•  Implementing recordkeeping systems

•  Evaluating recordkeeping systems

•  Designing, implementing and evaluating records management and archival systems

•  Designing finding aids

•  Developing classification systems and thesauri.

Column 3:

Creating records & capturing them into recordkeeping systems.

This designates the stream of activities which identify the recordkeeping requirements for organisations and functions, including the following activities:

•  Preparing functional Analyses.

•  Determining disposal status and retention periods.

•  Specifying documentation and metadata requirements.

•  Documenting the record creating context, recordkeeping systems and their relationships over time.

•  Managing records creation and capture.

•  Appraising records

•  Sentencing at point of creation.

•  Surveying and describing recordkeeping systems and records.

Column 4:

Maintaining & managing records over time .

This designates the stream of activities which manage and maintain records in systems for identified periods of time including the following ativities:

•  Developing strategic plans for the management and accessibility of records over time.

•  Managing records use and activity.

•  Setting and implementing rules for the transfer of custody, ownership and/or responsibility for records.

•  Planning and implementing records storage and preservation requirements. Implementing disposal and migration programs

3.4. The Librarianship (or Library and Information Services -- LIS) perspective.

The profession of Library and Information Services is a specialisation within information management. Like other aspects of information management, it is concerned with communication through space and time. It makes use of both digital and analogue information technologies.

The particular contribution of LIS is to facilitate levels of information access and preservation achievable only through collective action in organisations or society. Library and information services seek to be both dependable and responsive to needs.

LIS promotes knowledge and imagination in individuals and groups. It thereby supports personal fulfilment, cultural community, improved decision making, innovation and cultural continuity.


An LIS practitioner should have the following core areas of knowledge.

Broad Context

  • Understand the relationships between LIS and communication, linking individuals, groups and societies -- present, past and future.

•  Understand sources: the publishing value chain and the ‘information pool' -- analogue and digital.

Analysis

•  Investigate and identify how communication among stakeholders in specific contexts can be assisted through LIS .

Strategy

Develop strategic frameworks for LIS infrastructure, operations

and evaluation.

Infrastructure.

Provide appropriate budget, staffing, accommodation,

equipment, and information technology for LIS operations.

Operations, practices.

Inbound logistics.

  • Specify and implement selection, acquisition/licensing or creation, of relevant information sources.

•  Keep sources relevant through update and discard.

Processing.

•  Organise accessibility of information sources through appropriate categorisation, storage and preservation.

Outbound Logistics.

•  Provide information access and client services.

•  Provide guidance, education and training in the use of LIS and development of information skills.

•  Undertake marketing of LIS.

Evaluation.

•  Assess the effectiveness of LIS contributions to the content and quality of communication among all stakeholders.

Reading.

Soergel, D. (1998). An information science manifesto. See: http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-97/soergel.htm , Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, Dec./Jan., 10-12.

Reflection.

Consider the ‘manifesto' by Dagobert Soegel. Although it seeks to address the whole of ‘information science', it actually serves well as a summary of those aspects of information science that coincide with the professional discipline of librarianship. Even from this perspective it is strongest on the ‘knowledge' aspect, with less attention to imagination.

Reflect on how inadequately, given his claim to be addressing the ‘whole of information science,' Soegel addresses the notion of accountability documentation in the sense used by recordkeeping professionals.

3.5. The Knowledge Management (KM) perspective.

Knowledge Management is a broad concept that addresses the full range

of processes by which an organisation deploys knowledge. Is knowledge different from ‘intelligence'? KM processes involve the acquisition, retention, storage, distribution and knowledge in a group or an organization, big or small, ranging from small, community-based structures with seemingly simple institutional knowledge structures to multinationals. Knowledge management

embodies organizational processes that seek the synergistic combination of data and information processing capacity of information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings (Malhotra, 1998, http://www.brint.com/papers/ecology.htm).

Knowledge management occurs within an organization. It involves the sharing and mapping of knowledge and experience for the betterment of the organization. Individuals subsume their personal interests to organisational goals.

Numerous tensions are apparent in knowledge management discussions. For instance, it is seen as desirable that an organization use its tacit knowledge as a source of competitive advantage. Organizational learning theories tell organizations to extract this part of the organization's functional repository. Does the attempt to extract, manage and encapsulate knowledge actually undermine an organization's knowledge advantage? Maybe these types of dilemmas can be resolved to a degree by application of the ICM?

Readings.

Day, R. E. (2001). ‘Totality and Representation: A History of Knowledge Management Through European Documentation, Critical Modernity, and Post-Fordism.' Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 52(9): 725-735. (accessible via the Monash Online databases).

For an attempt to apply some knowledge management frameworks to community-based organizations, see a paper by Larry Stillman, Gary Hardy, Don Schauder, Mark Samuel-King, at http://webstylus.net/?q=taxonomy/term/22&PHPSESSID=bb1d2c162fd008ef67e12fa013c5793d , ‘ Knowledge Management: Disorienting Reorientations for Third Sector Organisations'.

3.6.The Information Systems (IS) perspective.

An information system can occur in many forms, including a technical system implemented with information and communications technologies, a social system where information is a primary activity (e.g., an organization like an insurance company that relies on a lot of information), and a conceptual system used to describe the flows of information and knowledge (like the ICM). As an applied discipline, IS is the study of the planning, development, use management and the impact of computer based systems on society and organizations.

IS arose as a means of tracking business activity effectively. In the IS context, information is an index to, and by-product of, an organisation's main functions.

3.7. Shared characteristics

– so perhaps, after all, all the above are particular twists on core issues for different audiences and outcomes…

What we have argued is in common across all of the four areas are:

•  work practices ,

•  genres of knowledge,

•  uses of information and communications technologies ,

•  purposes for uses of the knowledge,

•  group and individual information needs .

Roger Clarke of the Australian National University has given a very entertaining, short account of the commonalities between the above fields at http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/SOS/ISFundas.html . Read it.

Some characteristics of an accredited information manager, recordkeeping practitioner, knowledge manager, IS developer or analyst, are common to all information professions, including:

•  An understanding of the core role of information as a source for the creation, duplication and distribution of information, intelligence, and knowledge.

•  Awareness of the roles of different information professions, and the seeking of synergies.

•  Adherence to professional ethics.

•  Commitment to overall development of the profession through affiliation to a national association, with international affiliations.

•  Personal communication skills.

•  Appropriate IT and information system concepts and skills.

•  Effective team relationship skills.

•  General management skills (staffing and staff development, budget and finance, accommodation and equipment, organisational development), especially managing information.

4: Information as Evidence, Knowledge (awareness) and Infotainment.

At the end of this part, you will be able to explain the tripartite typology of information as evidence, knowledge (awareness) and infotainment.

Information continuum thinking has developed a tripartite typology of recorded information as evidence, knowledge (awareness) and infotainment.

•  Accountability Information:

Information that records social and organisation activity as evidence. Such information provides proof of personal, business and cultural activity, enabling people to account for what they do to each other. It establishes personal and cultural identity; and functions as personal, corporate or collective memory. As an instrument of power and authority, it regulates and controls business and social relationships between and amongst people and organisations.

A recent commentary on the lack of federal government commitment to its own records can be found at: ourhistory.naa.gov.au/library/pdf/Looking_Back.pdf :

By 2000 it was reasonable for an archival institution to consider doing what would have been financially ruinous just five years earlier: preserving and making accessible electronic records from a variety of systems and in a variety of forms. As a result, the National Archives of Australia released Custody Policy for Commonwealth Records signalling an in-principle undertaking to accept custody of all electronic records that are appraised as having archival value, regardless of form.

In late 2000 the Archives began developing its digital preservation program. Realising that the sheer diversity of business in the Australian Government meant that few assumptions could be made about the form and format of electronic records, the first stage of the program was to develop a conceptual understanding of electronic records that built on the Archives' previous insight: it is information as evidence, rather than the form of material, that is archivally significant over time. The result of this work was the ‘essential performance model', described in the digital preservation Green Paper, An Approach to the Preservation of Digital Records (2002).

In 2001 the Archives conducted surveys of recordkeeping attitudes within the Australian Government to assess progress towards better practice recordkeeping. In 2002, the Archives gained the support of the Australian National Audit Office in its recordkeeping audits of selected agencies and the Public Service Commission which highlighted recordkeeping issues in its State of the Service reports. The value of years of work developing standards and guidance became apparent as these high-profile organisations measured agency performance against recordkeeping benchmarks set by the National Archives.

In 2003 the National Archives proposed a new formal coalition of Australian archival institutions to consolidate and further promote the uniquely Australian approach to digital recordkeeping that is emerging. This coalition, known as the Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (DRI), includes all Australian government archives and the National Archives of New Zealand.

•  Knowledge (awareness) Information:

Information products that perpetuate or convey bodies or areas of thought, ideas, feelings and opinions. Information that enhances an individual's awareness of others, of physical contexts, or of themselves.

•  Infotainment:

Information products that are recorded for leisure, entertainment and enjoyment primarily.

In the following activity, you can explore these different ‘genres' of information.

Reflection.

We live in a web of documents, documents that govern our relationships, inform and entertain us, and are vital to our continuing survival as individuals and communities.

Think about your personal documentary web.

Make a list of 10-15 examples of the documents that live in your wallet, your briefcase, your office and your home, e.g., a driver's licence, library card, a business card, bankcard, an account, a receipt, a bus, train or airline ticket, a bank statement, a letter (on paper or in electronic form), a title deed, a marriage or birth certificate, an email message, a novel, an encyclopaedia (Encarta perhaps), a music CD, a set of conference proceedings (in print or on floppy disk), a home video, a newspaper.

Consider the different ways in which the documents you have listed could be sorted, e.g., all the paper or plastic documents; all the documents which are designed to convey knowledge; all the documents intended to entertain or inform a mass audience; all the documents that authorise action, represent a deed, provide evidence, or regulate relationships between people.

Note down on your list:

•  type of document (e.g., letter, receipt, journal, novel),

•  format (e.g., book, music CD),

•  medium (e.g., paper, plastic, film),

•  the technology that produced it (e.g., handwriting, printing press, computer processing, sound recording, photography),

•  the technology that distributed it,

•  the purpose of the document (e.g., a driver's licence authorises the holder to drive in a particular jurisdiction during a specified period of time, a newspaper communicates information about current events to a mass audience, then later forms an important historical record).

Consider whether there are any appreciable differences between information for knowledge and awareness.

Copyright. Graeme Johanson, 26 July 2005