IMS5048: Information Continuum -- Lecture 3
23 August 2005.
1.Definitions of memory.
2.Politics of memory.
3.Cultural artifacts and collective memory.
4.Anthony Giddens: memory, actor and structure.
5.Giddens: storing memory.
6.Relevance of memory to the ICM.
7.Duties of information professionals towards memory.
8.Examples of memory and the ICM:
8.1. Power without glory .
8.2. Bringing them home .
Memory is a very pervasive aspect of all of our lives. It is an essential element of our individual and collective identities. Hence there are a multitude of descriptions of it, and these notes are long. All of the memory descriptions in this section relate to the idea of a continuum model of information, and the importance of agency and structure. Memory is a key part of agent/structure.
Internal storage areas in the computer. The term memory identifies data storage that comes in the form of chips, and the word storage is used for memory that exists on tapes or disks. Moreover, the term memory is usually used as a shorthand for physical memory, which refers to the actual chips capable of holding data. Some computers also use virtual memory, which expands physical memory onto a hard disk.
Every computer comes with a certain amount of physical memory, usually referred to as main memory or RAM . You can think of main memory as an array of boxes, each of which can hold a single byte of information. A computer that has 1 megabyte of memory, therefore, can hold about 1 million bytes (or characters) of information.
There are different types of computer memory:
RAM (random-access memory): This is the same as main memory. When used by itself, the term RAM refers to read and write memory; that is, you can both write data into RAM and read data from RAM. This is in contrast to ROM, which permits you only to read data. Most RAM is volatile, which means that it requires a steady flow of electricity to maintain its contents. As soon as the power is turned off, whatever data was in RAM is lost.
ROM (read-only memory): Computers almost always contain a small amount of read-only memory that holds instructions for starting up the computer.
The OED refers to memory as a function, as an abstract form of knowledge, as a process, as a thing, and as a concrete representation of the abstract recollection or remembrance:
For the psychologist, memory has no substance in its own right. It is an emergent property of the mind, e.g., observation, which requires further development. Like instinct, it might be dormant, until activated.
The meanings given to memory are socially constructed. Memory is so fundamental to thinking and acting, that without it, human society would not operate.
Psychologists have analysed individual memory as comprising general knowledge, information about particular individual experiences, and knowledge of how to do things. They focus on the mental processes of thought, including perception, reasoning, intuition. They have examined the processes associated with individual memory, e.g., the capturing or learning process, the storing and maintaining process, the recalling or reconstructing process. Three different memory entities are associated with these processes -- what is learned or captured, what is stored, and what is retrieved or remembered.
From Durkheim on, sociologists have defined and analysed collective memory. Krippendorf, for example speaks of temporal memory (e.g., folktales, myths, gossip), spatial memory (recorded information) and structural memory (e.g.,
social, legal and organisational structures) as the components of collective memory.
The sociologist Connerton explores how social memory resides in 'incorporating practices' (body language, gestures, postural behaviour, dress), and 'inscribing practices' ('written' records). Anthropologists Teski and Climo have classified memory into five streams for the purposes of ethnographic studies -- remembering, forgetting, reconstructing, metamorphosis (transformation) and vicarious memory. Historian Peter Burke writes about the transmission of memory, exploring the role of oral traditions, written records, images, the commemoration of actions and events, and historical places. Historians have also explored social amnesia as an important aspect of collective memory.
= current organisational activities which rely on records of information or knowledge of past events in the organisation. The memory is communicated within the broad group, and stored in distributed human, physical and cultural repositories.
Filters control what memory survives and how it operates in an organization:
E.g., an incoming new minister (after an election) is briefed by senior public servants about protocol, policy, values, strategies. Only matters that are regarded as ‘significant' pass through communication filters.
E.g., internal rules in an organization about use of e-mail and the Internet.
Here is an interesting example of the way that government can avoid accountability for keeping or publicising records when it wants. The information is derived from Bill Blick, Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, 2003-4 Annual Report, Inquiry into concerns raised about the Defence intelligence Organisation by Lt Col Lance Collins , at http://www.igis.gov.au/annuals/03-04/annex3.cfm.
Lieutenant Colonel Collins, Australian Defence Force, wrote to the Minister for Defence on 6 December 2000, expressing concerns about the Australian defence intelligence system. The government did nothing.
The letter was leaked to The Bulletin . Collins asserted that in December 1999 the DIO without warning cut access to the Joint Intelligence Support System (JISS), a top-secret computer network maintained by DIO and accessible to other Defence entities. Collins was managing Australian intelligence in East Timor, during the Australian invasion.
When on 20 December 1999, the database became unavailable, Collins sent an e-mail message to DIO saying that inquiries by engineering staff had revealed that the database had been turned off on the orders of the Director, DIO. The message said that, if true, this was of the utmost operational concern.
An enquiry in 2004 by the Inspector-General could not determine conclusively the reasons for the loss of the database feed:
Despite exhaustive searching over a period of months, however, including re-constituting e-mail records from archived material, it was not possible to substantiate [that the system was deliberately turned off]. The material that could be obtained tended to support the claim that technical factors were responsible for the problem.
It might seem surprising to you that the most secure system in a country can lose records so easily. Later on, further evidence came to light. In the Sydney Morning Herald on 11 December 2004, Alan Ramsey wrote ‘The ins and outs of office politics', at
Remember the Australian army officer who put his career on the line in March when he wrote a scathing letter to John Howard seeking a royal commission into Australia's intelligence agencies? Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins's letter might well have never become public had The Bulletin magazine not published it in full in mid-April, along with a contentious 32-page army report which supported much of what Collins had to say.
Mr Bill Blick [Australia's then Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security] found that the loss of access resulted from technical problems rather than a deliberate decision. I have attached, for your information, a recent letter from the Chief of the Defence Force, General [Peter] Cosgrove, and the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Mr [Richard] Smith, which again confirms the technical reasons for the outage, and points out that this was the subject of correspondence with you in late 1999.
So said our Prime Minister eight months ago.
Two days ago -- on the last day of the parliamentary year -- the Defence Minister, Robert Hill, released a one-page statement which detailed how Bill Blick's successor, Ian Carnell, ‘subsequently reviewed all files relating to' Blick's whitewash of Collins's ‘concerns'. Carnell's ‘overall findings', said Hill, ‘were consistent with those of Mr Blick'.
But Hill added: ‘Mr Carnell did, however, suggest that while Mr Blick's investigations into one of Lt-Col. Collins's claims was comprehensive, it was not exhaustive, as evidence was not obtained from three people with some involvement in the events.' Carnell suggested he interview the ‘three people'. Hill agreed.
Hill's statement two days ago said, speaking of himself in the third person: ‘Mr Carnell reported to Senator Hill on 30 November . He found that access to the intelligence database had been deliberately turned off, and that it wasn't as a result of an instruction from the Director of DIO, Frank Lewincamp. He further found there were, at the time, security concerns, including the need to protect further certain categories of intelligence and establish reasonable limitation of the database on what particular groups of users could access, and that the short-term loss of access does not seem to have been a critical deficiency in operational terms.'
Collins had been right. Someone had deliberately switched off the intelligence database. Hill did not tell this to Parliament before it shut down for Christmas.
So who switched off the database, denying its material to army intelligence, and why? Hill did not say.
We may never know.
In many respects, information professionals bear grave responsibility as prescribers of historical consciousness. Collective memories are all around us in the language, actions and material culture of our everyday life, in the forms of
tourist sites, memorials, local history museums, public and private records. But it is in all knowledge storehouses where we find state papers, business records, letters, diaries, visual images and a plethora of items representative of our material culture -- furniture, tools, textiles, toys. Through selection of items from the written, visual and material objects that circulate in our society, public collecting institutions attribute a social value to specific objects and thus prescribe our historical consciousness. Certain items are privileged over others, as years pass (Darian-Smith & Hamilton, 1994, p 4).
Consider this speech in China, in 1996 by Terry Cook, of the National Archives of Canada. ( Archives in the post-custodial world: interaction of archival theory and practice since the publication of the Dutch Manual in 1898 . XIII International Congress on Archives, Beijing 1996, Third Plenary Session, Principal Paper, p 1):
In the year 1596, the Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci
presented his Chinese hosts with a plan to build a 'memory palace'. His proposal was really for an elaborate mnemonic device to facilitate the accurate categorization and memorization of information. Ricci's palace had hundreds of buildings, thousands of rooms, and many thousands of closets and furnishings . . . His palace architecture was deliberately carefully designed so that its structure would reflect the many divisions and sub-divisions of human knowledge.
Now, exactly four hundred years after Matteo Ricci, I also stand before my Chinese hosts, and humbly assert that we, the assembled archivists of the world, are still building memory palaces. Our memory palaces are not artificial (and impossible) schema to organize all human knowledge, such as Matteo Ricci proposed, but rather organic realities that contain the recorded memories of the world. The National Archivist of Canada and ICA President Jean-Pierre Wallot has written that we are 'building living memory for the history of our present'. Mirroring Matteo Ricci's architectural imagery, Wallot refers to the resulting archives as our 'houses of memory'. He asserts that this 'building' work is a 'heavy burden' on archivists, for the results contain 'the keys to the collective memory' of nations and peoples.
Archivists thereby also hold the keys to that personal and societal well-being that comes from experiencing continuity with the past, a sense of roots, of belonging, of identity. . . Yet such societal or collective memory has not been formed haphazardly throughout history . . . Historians in a post-modernist milieu are now looking very carefully at the processes over time that have determined what was worth remembering and, as important, what perforce was forgotten. French scholar Jacques Le Goff refers to the politics of archival memory: since ancient times, those in power decided who was allowed to speak and who was forced into silence, even among archival holdings. American historian Gerda Lerner convincingly traces from the Middle Ages to this century the exclusion of women from society's memory tools and institutions, including archives. African archivists are now questioning whether classic archival concepts that emerged from the written culture of Europe are appropriate for preserving the memories of Third World peoples whose culture is oral. All these acts of societal remembering, in other words, have momentous implications. As novelist Milan Kundera reminds us, 'the struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting'. But whose memory? And who determines the struggle?
We are not immune in Australia from our own form of political redesign of our past at the moment. A struggle is occurring about historical identity. Professor Marilyn Lake writes about ‘The Howard history of Australia' in The Age on 20 August 2005, p 9:
Those who control the past, we are told, also control the future. John Howard's efforts to militarise Australian historical memory certainly prepare the way for future wars, but there is surely more at stake in this frenzy of war commemoration. Power works productively and the Prime Minister has used his power to outflank his enemies in the History Wars, by choosing to fight his battles on his own terms. In war commemoration, John Howard is producing a new version of national history.
Foreign battlefields have displaced frontier wars as sites of memory. Who cares whether Aboriginal people were dispossessed by British settlement or that colonial history was marred by massacres? Real Australian history begins with Gallipoli, when Australian men joined the first Australian Imperial Force to fight overseas -- not so much, it seems, for God and Empire as old memorials still somewhat embarrassingly insist -- but for modern Australian freedom. And the men kept fighting for freedom during World War II, in Malaysia, Korea and Vietnam, in the Gulf and now in Iraq. This is history according to Howard and it is getting a lot of air-play.
Not so long ago it was the Returned and Services League that took responsibility for the military tradition and inculcated its virtues, but as an organisation it was -- rightly -- more concerned with veterans' welfare than propagating history lessons. In the new century, the Prime Minister has taken on the role of leading impresario in the theatre of war commemoration, presiding recently -- during VP Day celebrations -- over what was described as the largest air pageant in this country.
Power can be pleasurable. No other prime minister has taken such a personal interest in promoting military history and thus shaping a past to serve the present, a past that is called upon to unify, to inspire patriotism, to make us proud. Paul Keating gestured that way when he kissed the ground at Kokoda, but he was equally interested in debunking the myths associated with Gallipoli.
The new military history wants to be inclusive. Groups once marginal to history, such as women, are now accorded pride of place in their capacities as servicewomen, auxiliary workers and military nurses.
The exhortation ‘Lest We Forget' reminds us that memory left to its own devices can be fickle or unreliable. During the past decade, the Federal Government has invested millions of dollars in the project of shaping historical memory through the expansion of war memorials, the proliferation of plaques, annual pilgrimages to battlefields, the development of war-focused curriculum material for schools, massive subsidies for book and film production and, most importantly, the endless ritual of public commemoration. Repetition is crucial to memory-making. Money would seem to be in endless supply. The Prime Minister capped off the latest round of commemoration with a commitment to spend $1.2 million in a search for the battleship ‘HMAS Sydney' that, if found, will no doubt be added to the new list of heritage sites.
Remembering rests on forgetting. Much is being lost in this reshaping of historical memory, including knowledge of our proud traditions of political and social innovation that captured the attention of reformers around the world, traditions that include the democratic innovation of the secret ballot, free, secular and compulsory education, women's suffrage, the principle of a living wage, old age and invalid pensions, the maternity allowance and unemployment benefits. These achievements were won by Australians inspired by a vision of a new world that repudiated the status distinctions and religious and military hierarchies of the old world they or their parents had left behind.
Should we not employ public funds to ensure that these traditions remain in historical memory to inspire Australians of the future? In many ways, the struggle over industrial relations is a struggle over the value of that heritage and the place of the living wage in securing social justice for ordinary Australians.
Australia's excessive investment in commemorating our participation in overseas wars is a form of compensation for a country still in a condition of colonial dependency. Indeed, in contemplating the significance of military history for nation building we might recall that the Americans proved their nationhood in a war against the imperial power of Britain, not in fighting for it.
War memorials and naval shipwrecks are only one form of historical artefact. All ‘texts' are expressions of memory: oral, written, physical objects, and performance. Even smell can evoke memory. Professor Eric Ketelaar, of the University of Amsterdam, in a research seminar at Monash on 5 August 2002, titled a presentation ‘Is everything archive?'
He defined archival objects very broadly:
What is an archive as perceived by society? The popular perception is that archives are cold, musty, dusty places that hold old records. Old records or, as in Webster's dictionary, public records or historical documents . But archives are not only history. As articles in the press clearly demonstrate these days, society considers everything an archive – books, papers, artifacts, sound, images, geological samples – that is serious and reliable information, put in storage to be retrieved when you need it: a backup that saves what may be of value in the future. Ask any search engine the term ‘archives' and it will yield millions of hits ( Google on 16 August, 2001 24,3 million, on 21 April 2002 33,2 million - in eight months an increase with 37%!), most of which are no archives or records in the archivists' terminology, but which are an expression of the value society attaches to keeping account of its present for its future.
We see the compulsive creation of private records and archives, connecting the living history of individuals and families to national history. Records and archives in a broad sense. More memory, than archive: the record as memory. Marie-Anne Chabin (1999, Je pense donc j'archive , L'Harmattan, Paris and Montréal) proposes to distinguish archives by birth from archives by baptism , the former corresponding to records and archives in the archivists' terminology, the latter meaning those documents having no primary record status or value, which have survived and are recognized as having a value to retain a memory (or: memories).
A remarkable program in the United States, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the White House Millennium Council, promotes the creation of public archives by private people, connecting their history to that of America. Collective memory, Susan Crane wrote, is ultimately
located not in sites but in individuals. All narratives, all sites, all texts remain objects until they are ‘read' or referred to by individuals thinking historically (Susan A. Crane, ‘Writing the individual back into collective memory', American Historical Review 102 (1997) 1381).
This fits in with the conception of the man who can be regarded as the father of the notion of collective memory, Maurice Halbwachs. According to Halbwachs there is no individual memory dissociated from collective memory. He was also the first sociologist to stress
that our conceptions of the past are affected by the mental images we employ to solve present problems, so that collective memory is essentially a reconstruction of the past in the light of the present (Lewis A. Coser (ed.), Maurice Halbwachs, On collective memory, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1992, p 34).
In collective memory it is not the facts that count, but remembrance of the past: historical facts are being transformed into myths. Earlier memory metaphors, like ‘photographic memory', assumed that perceptions are stored in memory as immutable traces. More recently, people use the computer as a metaphor for human memory. Both the computer and human memory allow for replacing old data by new information and for altering stored information. The human memory does not store an exact reproduction, but filters incoming information which is coded into a representation of reality. Memory not as passive storage, but as an active power. In this respect collective memory acts just like an individual‘s memory.
Until now I referred to ‘the' collective memory, but evidently there are as many collective memories as there are collectives and social groups. Even within one community there is interaction between various different memories. What we regard as collective memory, is what the members of a group, an organisation or a society want to remember. That is more than what the elite of that group appropriates as collective memory or what it enforces the group, through ‘politics of memory', to view as collective memory.
You may not feel comfortable about Ketelaar's description of everything as archive, but his comments on societal memory are reinforced in discussion below.
Any researcher (whether serious or amateur) uses data, but the information professional calls it information or knowledge. This is the raw material of memory in its most basic form. It may defy existing codes; it may be full of enormous surprises. If you are a researcher you aim to describe all connected situations, phenomena, events, or acts, and then to explore all logical explanations for any links between them. The possibilities for explanation are very large to start with. Information helps you understand the cause of things.
Information and knowledge can also be called evidence. It may originate in many places, and consist of quite different things. It can be tangible objects, such as coins or credit cards; records of economic and social relationships, for example, trading; invisible processes, like incurring debt; unspoken rules, like limited liability; institutions, like market-places and stock exchanges; abstractions, like a cash flow; or theories or systems of thinking, like ‘free trade' or a ‘command economy'. Any of this evidence can be used in special ways by the professional information analyst.
Some evidence will disappear, or never be disclosed. An eyewitness to an accident may walk away nonchalantly, oblivious to the significance of his inner observations, or how they fit into the complete jigsaw of all evidence of the scene. Participants' thoughts may have to be deduced from what others observed about behaviours at the accident. Knowledge of the psychology of perception and observation can assist in decoding in this instance.
Some evidence will be omitted selectively by the analyst after deliberation. Repetitive confirmation of an accepted piece of common knowledge, for example, becomes superfluous. It is unlikely that a professional will need to remind modern computer scientists that all computers derive their fundamental coded mathematical basis from the hypothetical Universal Turing Machine, invented in 1936, illustrated here:
Other evidence will be overlooked inadvertently upon a cursory examination, but will be reintegrated into mainstream professional commentary after considered reflection, or re-discovery. Some evidence is mulled over many times. Evidence provided by modern DNA tests on old, organic samples is an example of re-examining old artefacts with new tools.
In our group activities, we delegate to certain trusted organisations the responsibility of keeping or destroying our information, knowledge and evidence. Collecting and caring for evidence, and weeding it, are part of the professional duties of curators, custodians, librarians, archivists, record-keepers, and other researchers. The desires to nurture or to destroy suggest an intrinsic power in the evidence itself. Thus, family historians may be specially interested in skeletons in the closet, while public relations experts are concerned above all else to maintain images unsullied by human error or character taint. An election campaign reveals both sides.
The value of evidence changes over time, as do the purposes for collecting and using it. Videos taken of family members today may become just historical records of fashion (as worn by unidentified individuals) to generations in the future. Contemporary medical files of 300,000 individual patients in Iceland collected now by local doctors will become part of a gene archive sold by the Icelandic government to private researchers in the USA in the future.
Texts are not only the products of their originators but of successive processes of editing, revision, translation and interpretation. They are potential evidence about all those who participated in the processes through which it was handed down to the present.
As sociologist Giddens has a special focus on the role of memory in society. His structuration theory is an attempt to develop understanding of the relationship between structure and action. Views about structure and action, according to Giddens, can be understood in terms of whether one focuses on the subject in sociology, or its object. The subject is the actor. The object is the society as the carrier of the structure in which the actor acts. Too many sociologists, Giddens contends, are obsessed with the subject or the object, and fail to see how action and structure interact ( The constitution of society pp. 13-14).
In the last topic, we noted that he differentiated between system and structure.
These are closely related concepts in the theory of structuration, but Giddens distinguishes them. Systems are ‘patterns of relations in groupings of all kinds, from small, intimate groups, to social networks, to large organizations'. That is, it is the patterns of enacted conduct, the repeated forms of social action and interaction, or the ‘enduring cycles of reproduced relations' that form social systems. These could be systems such as families, peer groups, communities, or cities, either at the face-to-face level or existing via networks over space and time.
The networks associated with print or electronic communication, or occasional person-to-person meetings associated with conventions or conferences, are examples of systems that have become more common with the development and expansion of communication and transportation. It is the patterns of relationships and repeated forms of interaction themselves that form the systems for Giddens.
For Giddens, structure is broader, and refers to practices which are structured along certain lines. These include:
Structures such as market exchange, class structures, political organizations and processes, and educational institutions all have these aspects to them. These structures are formed by structured practices – that is, they do not just exist in and of themselves and they cannot exist without enacted conduct.
A scientific analogy to illustrate the difference between system and structure, would be to say that weather is a system to the structure of climate, and that variations in the beaks of finches on the Galapagos Islands are a system to the structure of evolution globally.
While we may refer to large-scale structures that affect us, Giddens forces us to consider how they are reproduced. It is enacted human conduct in the form of structured practices that maintains and reproduces these structures. But if these enacted forms of conduct change, either because individuals make conscious decisions to change, or through less conscious forms of adjustment, adaptation, and practice, then this can result in structural change as well. Social movements, collective action, or parallel changes by many individuals could have this result.
Giddens encourages us to consider the time-frame of memory, which can involve each of the following:
For Giddens, structures are better conceptualised as memory traces. He does not look to the minutiae of ‘information' or ‘evidence' directly. But memory acts like artefacts or texts as we have outlined their roles above. For him memory traces are both a regulating factor and an enabling resource, which actors can draw upon recursively in action. The manner and extent to which they are drawn upon in turn reconstitutes them (p. 15).
Giddens places emphasis upon structures as a constraining factor, and also an enabling factor. He does not assume compliance with structures, and draws attention to the recurring nature by which action and structure interact to shape each other. Structure, for Giddens, is not something separate from human action. It exists as memory, including the memory contained within the way we represent, recall, and disseminate resources including recorded information.
Giddens has briefly explained this action-structure duality as follows. All social interaction is expressed at some point in and through the contextualities of bodily presence. In moving out from the analysis of strategic conduct to a recognition of the duality of structure, we have to begin to 'thread outwards' in time and space. That is to say, we have to try to see how the practices followed in a given range of contexts are embedded in wider reaches of time and space -- in brief, we have to attempt to discover their relation to institutionalized practices (p 291).
One of the purposes in developing our Continuum Model originally was as a way of graphically representing the moving out from an initial communication which occurs in recordkeeping. The threading outwards in time and space occurs within the processes of recordkeeping and so does the institutionalisation of our practices in creating documents, capturing records, organising memory and pluralising memory. The first dimension sees the beginning of a spread away from the immediate contexts of creation. In the second dimension information is added about the document or its communication. This enables it to be disembedded from the immediate contexts of its creation. Even fuller time-space distanciation occurs if the record is organised as part of corporate memory. This gives the document (now a document and a record) greater accessibility within the organisation. The threading outwards enters another distancing dimension when the document connects with other memory banks across even wider reaches of time or space (pluralisation) (p. 16).
Eric Ketelaar (op.cit., 2002) describes the transfer of memory in this way:
Transfer is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about an archive, with its immediate connotation of storage, a connotation reinforced by the concept of ‘storage memory'. But people familiar with Anthony Giddens' time-space distanciation know how essential storage of information is as a prime source of time-space distanciation.
Archiving -- all the activities from creation and management to use of records and archives -- has always been directed towards transmitting human activity and experience through time and, secondly, through space. A storage memory transmits information to some later point in time. It is this quality of the archive as storage for time-space distanciation, as a time machine, that I want to stress.
Records are used to support the management and control of the work process. Instructions for man and machine, the enhancement of the organisation's products and services, reporting -- they all form part of the ‘process-bound information', as it is called in archival science. It is the information generated by work processes that are all connected.
Records are also used as a basis to account for the results of a business. They document transactions and relations -- between supplier and client, editor and author, or between the committee of a society and its members. They are kept to serve as an account of these transactions or relations, and as evidence. Evidence not only in the legal sense, but also from a historical point of view, to demonstrate what has been.
These two qualities of records fit into Aleida Assmann's scheme of the two modes of memory. The functional memory contains process-bound information, while the storage memory serves the evidential function:
Archives can be organised as functional or as storage memory. The former contains those documents and records that safeguard the legitimizing basis of existing power relations, the latter stores potential sources forming the basis of the historical knowledge of a culture ( Aleida Assmann, Erinnerungsräume. Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses, C.H. Beck, München 1999, pp 130-142) .
Structures, according to Giddens, perpetuate relationships in a society through memory traces. This is not unlike Dawkins' idea of the meme, but is more fully articulated by this theorist. Giddens describes memory in the following terms.
Memory (or recall) is to be understood not only in relation to the psychological qualities of individual agents, but also as inhering in the recursiveness of institutional reproduction. Storage here already presumes modes of time-space control, as well as phenomenal experience of 'lived time,' and the container that stores the authoritative resource is the community itself.
The storage of authoritative and allocative resources may be understood as the retention and control of information or knowledge whereby social relations are perpetuated across time-space. Storage presumes media of information representation, modes of information retrieval or recall and, as with all power resources, modes of its dissemination.
Knowledge management relates to tacit and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is the things that you know, but can't necessarily explain well.
Giddens calls this ‘practical knowledge.' Examples include:
Explicit knowledge is much more easily documented and documentable. It is publicly known. Giddens calls this ‘discursive knowledge' – i.e., what can be explained openly and by reference to texts. Examples include:
Giddens adds important insights too often absent in information and knowledge management.
5.1.First there is the concept of information as an allocative and authoritative resource. Resources have both allocative and authoritative qualities. The differences between them are as follows:
The distinction between the two forms of resources does not always hold up, as Martha E. Geores, points out in ‘Considering Scale in Resource Definition: Constituting the Commons', at: http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/archive/00000263/00/georesm041700.pdf:
In a broad sense allocative resources are property resources while authoritative resources are power resources. Again, there is not always a clear line between allocative and authoritative resources. Identifying them as one or the other is less important than observing the social action taking place … It is not difficult to think of natural resources as allocative resources, and the plans by which they are managed as authoritative resources … The process of resource definition [e.g., of forests] is sensitive to scale for many reasons. These include the nature and extent of the resource, and its potential uses and users. Scale is a consideration in who defines (using authoritative resources) the resource (an allocative resource).
Unfortunately for our discussion, when discussing resources, Giddens did not deal specifically with the worlds of information and technology very much, so we are thrown back on the examples that he did mention, in order to try to apply his ideas about resources. Giddens mostly applied his argument about resources to an extremely (unhelpful) abstract discussion of the different forms of nation states, writing of the combination of allocative and authoritative resources concentrated in a ‘power container'. To him, the various state forms are dominated by their specific locale (national territory, city-state, metropolitan centre of agrarian empire), or allocative resources, and power container (city, castle, dispersed nation state), or authoritative resources. The modern nation state is effectively the absolute power container in modernity, and only in modernity is the territory of the state fixed by borders rather than delimited by a shifting frontier. See: G. Boucher, ‘The Theory of Structuration & the Politics of the Third Way The Nation State and Violence', at: http://ethicalpolitics.org/geoff-boucher/2001/politics7.htm .
To illustrate the difficulty of separating the two forms of resources, consider recorded information as an allocative resource; it can be a material product of action and a source for further action. It is in itself a technology, and can be analysed as a produced good. At the same time, as an authoritative resource, recorded information is a means of constituting society, of governing relationships, and of both controlling members of society and providing opportunities for them. The difference between the two is not clear-cut.
5.2.The second insight from Giddens is that the community is the container , as mentioned in 4.1, that stores the authoritative resource. The easiest way to understand this, of course, is in preliterate societies where knowledge is carried forward in aural or visual form by individuals and the group. However in any society, from a memory point of view, the container of records is a society's organisations, groups and individuals.
5.3.The third useful insight is that recorded information plays an important role in perpetuating relations across time-space . Giddens' reference to time-space control takes us back to the concept of duality of structure in which he argues that to survive societies must bind together time and space. This occurs initially through face-to-face communications, and then by the threading out of these communications through time and space.
See: Upward, F. (1997). ‘Structuring the records continuum, Part 2: Structuration theory and recordkeeping'. Archives and Manuscripts , 25 (1), 10-35.
Films can be used as a method to illustrate these three core ideas of Giddens.
Consider how in turn films like Schindler's List, Amistad, and the Titanic spawn newspaper and magazine articles, books, documentaries and web sites, and call forth the memories of the survivors. Reflect on the nature of such films as both allocative and authoritative resources, and as containers that stretch time and space.
These films are clearly examples of information as allocative resource, i.e., material products of action, which their directors claim for them the status of works of 'documentary history', designed not only to entertain but also to memorialise, to witness to the past, to help construct or reconstruct collective memory, and to shape our sense of identity today.
Massive effort, drawing extensively on archival research and other information resources, has gone into making these films look and feel authentic from the black and white images of Schindler's List , which for film critic Evan William (in The Australian Weekend Review , Feb. 12-13 1994) gave the film the look of a 'miraculously animated archive'.
Similarly the sets and costumes for the Titanic faithfully reproduced, from the original design drawings and old family photographs, every detail of the ship's interior and of passengers' clothing.
Freeze frames of the Titanic and you will see recreated exactly the images in old sepia photographs. Listen to Schindler's speech to his workers at the end of the war, and hear the exact words spoken as recorded by two women who were short-hand writers and had a sense of occasion. Watch as the stern of the Titanic plunges into the depths and see the baker riding it down as he (but not Jack and Rose) did. In reality 'it felt like an elevator' -- his words to the Inquiry. Listen to the speech of former American President, John Adams, in Amistad and hear his words as they were written into the court transcript in 1839. Of Amistad the director, Steven Spielberg said:
In telling this story, I learned that a man enslaved will do almost anything to be free.
How do these films affect our own perceptions of the past, present and future. Do they take control of our knowledge and memories, to some extent?
The Information Continuum Model supports the view that wherever an information professional works within the terrain of the Information Continuum, they ultimately carry responsibilities to the Societal level for the quality of our collective memory.
In Topics 3 and 4 we explored the factors brought together in the Information Continuum Model. Here we focus on the role that the stored communicative actions play as corporate and collective memory -- in informing, witnessing
In the practice of information management and information systems, professionals nurture heritage and collective memory, consciously and intentionally, and they are also embedded in daily routines. It may be simply at the level of organisational memory, by backing up systems each day. It may be maintaining an accurate health database, with reliable patient records. It may be collecting a studio's cultural output on film or multimedia.
The effects of decisions made by professionals in these fields are cumulative, and what was done in the past can determine what is possible in the immediate future. For example, a study of a collection of information, in a library, an office, or on a desktop, will reveal much about the origins of the data, the purpose of its creation, the likely impact of the current use of the information, and its probable lifespan. This accumulated knowledge can help identify future patterns of use of information by an individual, group, and/or organisation. A systems analyst will be assisted by an information audit which provides this type of thorough analysis. Whether the systems are traditional publications, personal networks or international electronic grids, systems designers need to understand the origins and patterns of information flows in order to make them as useful as possible.
The dimension in which common controls are developed suitable for storing communicative actions within collaborating groups, including the materials and systems used, the identification and categorisation of stored communicative actions, the structures in place, and the way in which collaborating groups draw from, and contribute to, stored memory.
In the third dimension, we are concerned with 'insider' issues to do with forming, managing and providing access to the corporate memory. It is the dimension in which captured communicative actions are organised to meet the needs of an organisation or information community, including the materials and systems involved, the identification and categorisation schemes used, the structures in place, and the way that an organisation or information community draws from, and contributes to, stored memory.
This leads us into wide ranging and fundamental questions about how our lives are witnessed and memorialised, and considerations of how collective memory, the evidence of us -- gender identity, sexual identity, family identity,
national identity, racial/ethnic identity, professional identity, religious identity, political identity, cultural identity – is carried forward through time.
In the fourth dimension, we are essentially on the 'outside' looking in, concerned with the constitution of collective memory in a way that crosses organisational and jurisdictional boundaries. The dimension in which captured and organised communicative actions are brought together and shared beyond and among organisations and societies, including the materials and systems involved, the identification and categorisation used, the structures in place, and the way in which organizations and societies draw from, and contribute to, stored memory.
To provide for the maximum effectiveness of organisational or societal memory, the attribution of data within data structures to ‘document-like information objects' that capture communicative transactions of all kinds needs to be controlled. At the same time, these controls, enabled and limited by technology, help to build ‘structures of forgetting' as well as ‘structures of remembering', and provide value-laden ‘interpretive interfaces' with the past.
In the information management field, up until the advent of the ICM, we have developed no systematic understanding of the interrelationships between personal memory, corporate memory and collective memory, nor of how information management contributes to the corporate memory of an organisation or the collective memory of a society. There is a vast literature relating to memory in other disciplines, but information managers are yet to study in a rigorous way the operative relationships between memory and information management, or to consider the relevance of this other literature to our own fields.
What role do information and knowledge managers play in the formation of memory?
Often there a strong taboos about memory, in which public repositories of knowledge are complicit, as E. White (1995) points out in ‘Esthetics and loss' (1987), in The burning library: writings on art, literature and sexuality, 1969-1993 , Picador, London: p.215:
There is an equally strong urge to record one's own past -- one's own life -- before it vanishes. I suppose everyone believes and chooses to ignore that each detail of our behaviour is inscribed in the arbitrariness of history. Which culture, which moment we live in determines how we have sex, go mad, marry, die, and worship, even how we say Ai! instead of Ouch! when we're pinched . . . For gay men this force of history has been made to come clean; it's been stripped of its natural look. The very rapidity of change has laid bare the clanking machinery of history. To have been oppressed in the 1950s, freed in the 1960s, exalted in the 1970s and wiped out in the 1980s is a quick itinerary for a whole culture to follow. For we are witnessing not just the death of individuals but a menace to an entire culture. All the more reason to bear witness to the cultural moment.
Notice how Edmund White makes interesting links between individual identity and memorialising, the ‘instinct to witness', the issue of cultural identity, and collective memory.
At a very different level, the collective memory of a nation can be involved:
The collective memory of a nation is indispensable if we want to understand who we are, to understand where we come from, to better comprehend where we find ourselves and where we are going. Archives are the documentary base of this collective memory, which itself is so important to maintain and strengthen national identity (Translated extract from an editorial in Avui , a Catalan daily newspaper, 1996, concerning demands for the repatriation of Catalan Government records seized by the Castilians during the Spanish Civil War, and housed ever since in the Archives of Salamanca).
Then there is the urge to kill the memory at times of massive political turmoil and social upheaval. The deliberate targeting of repositories of collective memory in Bosnia is a potent indication of its significance:
Libraries, archives, museums and cultural institutions throughout Bosnia have been targeted for destruction, in an attempt to eliminate any material evidence -- books, documents and works of art -– that could remind future generations that people of different ethnic and religious traditions once shared a common heritage in Bosnia. The practitioners of ethnic 'cleansing' are not content to terrorize and kill the living; they want to eliminate all memory of the past as well. (Riedlmayer, A. (1994). ‘Killing the memory: the targeting of libraries and archives in Bosnia-Herzegovina'. Newsletter of the Middle East Librarians Association , p. 61).
Here is a photo of Bosnia's National and University Library in flames. (photograph by Milomir Kovacevic):
For some insight into the scale and impact of the destruction in Bosnia, you might like to visit the following home page, established by Andras Riedlmayer: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/62/068.html . The site includes other articles on the destruction of records, the role of archives and libraries as the keepers of collective memory, and the international law applicable to the protection of records in the event of armed conflict. It also points to other sites which list in chilling detail what has been and is being destroyed.
Think about the many forms that collective memory takes:
With reference to the above list of the forms that collective memory takes, consider the following questions:
Power Without Glory is an example of a major communicative action, which is present in all four dimensions of the Information Continuum Model. Power Without Glory is a well-known Australian novel written by Frank Hardy in
the late 1940s, its central character -- John West -- was based on a real-life character, John Wren, a very influential and wealthy citizen of Melbourne.
In the words of one commentator:
Hardy's book was an epical representation of a whole phase of Australian social and political history, done from the angle of the forces behind the scenes. In treating those forces he could not but find himself up against very powerful interests, especially as he came to the conclusion that the man on whom he must concentrate was a ruler in the sporting world, with a strong underground organization as well as his obvious empire, whom it was highly dangerous to challenge'. (Lindsay, J. 1991. ‘Introduction', in Hardy, F. 1991. Power Without Glory , Mandarin, Melbourne).
Before discussing further the complexities of this work's creation, capture, organisation and pluralisation, her is more about Frank Hardy, and about John West who is the main character of the book.
Frank Hardy was born in 1917 in Southern Cross, a small country town, and died in 1994. Lindsay tells us:
We can see the kind of book Hardy was driven to write was largely determined by his own experiences. He was born into a working-class family in Victoria, Australia, where his father moved from place to place, working in milk and butter factories. His own youth was spent in the depressed Thirties, with all sorts and shifts and struggles necessary for the family to survive. In 1942, he joined the army and was posted to the Northern Territory. Before the end of the war, Hardy had had some success with short stories and had conceived the idea of a large scale novel that would attempt to set out a full picture of Australian realities, going deep under the surfaces and grappling with the hidden forces at play. Such a concept excited both Hardy's young and topless ambition, and the political passion which had been bred in him by the family's sufferings. (Lindsay, J. 1991).
At that time Hardy was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party, and was using the nom-de-plume, ‘Ross Franklyn'. His Communist involvement is well documented by a fellow traveller, Pauline Armstrong, who has described the genesis of the novel in her new history, Frank Hardy and the making of Power without glory , Carlton South, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2000. It is in the Monash library, Caulfield.
The book starts in pre-Federation Victoria, in a Melbourne deeply divided along religious and ethnic lines, with English Protestants holding most power and wealth, and the Catholic Irish downtrodden and poor. The Yarra physically divides the slums of Collingwood and Richmond (Carringbush in the book), from the wealthy suburbs south of the river. The ‘wowser' attitudes of the power elite have resulted in gambling only being legal in the clubs and racecourses of the wealthy. After the gold-rush boom of ‘Marvellous Melbourne' in the 1880s, there is an economic crash, with building societies and banks becoming insolvent. Many rich people have lost their fortunes, and the poor have been reduced to starvation. In this world of poverty and misery, John West uses illegal gambling as his own escape route from grinding poverty, and he offers it to the people of Carringbush also as a distraction from their misery and a possible means of changing their fortune. Despite Hardy's contempt for all that West stands for, the book conveys the magnitude of West's achievements in meeting his self-set goals. By the end of the book, the Catholic community has gained greatly in power, and, under the leadership of Archbishop Mannix, is highly influential in the Trade Unions and the Labor Party:
It is the time of the Cold War, and the Church sees itself as the chief bulwark of Australia against Communism. The Labor Party splits over this issue, and West (like his real-life
counterpart Wren) has an important role in these developments. The fictional West loses a beloved daughter because of her sympathy with the Left.
The following extracts from the first chapter of Power Without Glory give some idea of the atmosphere and narrative of the book.
One bleak afternoon in the winter of 1893, a young man stood in the doorway of a shop in Jackson Street, Carringbush, a suburb of the city of Melbourne in the Colony of Victoria. With his left hand he was spinning a coin. It was a shiny golden coin, a sovereign. Standing on the footpath facing him from a few feet away was a tall policeman in uniform, whose small, unintelligent eyes followed the flight of the coin as it spun up a few feet and fell into the palm of the young man's hand, only to spin rhythmically upwards again and again. The policeman said: ‘This shop is on my beat. I have complaints that you are conducting an illegal totalisator [a betting shop] here.' A cold wind blew through the door fanning against the young man's trouser legs, revealing that he was
extremely bow-legged [from malnutrition -- rickets -- in a poverty stricken childhood]. He was twenty-four years of age, and his name was John West. After a pause, John West answered quietly in a resonant voice: ‘I told yer before: this is a tea shop and we only work here'. His eyes were not watching the coin; they were glued to the policeman's face. ‘See fer yerself, Constable Brogan, someone has informed yer wrong. All you have to do is report that somebody's made a mistake, and everything'll be all right.'
‘I don't wish to doubt you, but - er, I have instructions to search the shop,' Brogan said, and his eyes broke from the hypnotic effect of the spinning coin and met those of the young man. As they did so, West, as though reading a message in them, suddenly flicked the sovereign at the policeman, who reached quickly and caught the coin in front of his chest. Constable Brogan looked around furtively, his cheeks reddened, and he dropped his head.
‘I can see you realise you have been informed wrong,' John West said. ‘This is a tea shop. Say that, and everything'll be all right.' John West watched him tensely. He sighed when the policeman slipped the coin into his tunic pocket, saying: ‘I will report that, as far as I can see, this is a tea shop.'
(Hardy, F. 1991. Power Without Glory , Melbourne, Mandarin).
So begins a story in which West builds a vast fortune on the foundation of illegal gambling. When bribery of local police no longer suffices, he fortifies and camouflages his operations. He uses intimidation, violence -- even murder -- as needed to spread his power. He gives generously to charity and political parties, gaining a dominating influence in the Catholic Church and the Labor Party - all the while using religion and politics to avert any threats to his empire (that of his real-life counterpart was known as ‘the Wren machine'). He rigs horse races and other sporting events. His bribery extends to Supreme Court judges. As Lindsay says: ‘in the world of the spinning coin [of corruption, and supreme power of money] he moves with masterful ease. It is a dynamic process to which he is importantly contributing, but which in the last resort is his master, not his slave'. (Lindsay. J. 1991).
This is the dimension in which one or more participants engage in a communicative action, including the materials and systems they use, the way they identify and categorise their action, the structures in place, and the way individual participants draw on, and contribute to, stored memory.
How did Frank Hardy create Power Without Glory ? In terms of the factors operating in the Create dimension, what type of communicative transaction was it, who participated in it and in what structural context; how was it identified and categorised; what materials and systems were involved; how did the participants draw from and contribute to stored memory?
And what kind of interaction was occurring with the other dimensions? What consequential communicative transactions occurred?
In his autobiography, The Hard Way , Frank Hardy describes in the third person (referring to his nom-de-plume persona, Ross Franklyn), how he attacked his task:
1947 dawned to find him obsessed with gathering material for Power without Glory . He began to copy into notebooks extracts from Hansard, from old newspapers and magazines, from Royal Commission Reports, from documents in Melbourne and Sydney libraries.
Many others helped him, including Deirdre Moore, his own wife, and Les Barnes, later self-appointed historian of Brunswick. Pauline Armstrong tell us:
Wherever Frank Hardy traveled, he struck up conversations with people, especially old people, who were willing to discuss John Wren; a man of mystery. Wren controlled a large empire, and people had many tales to tell if they considered there no risk of reprisal. There were many ‘inside' stories. (Armstrong 2000, p 50).
(In terms of the Information Continuum Model, here Hardy draws on Corporate and Collective Societal Memory, using metadata from the Corporate Domain, standardised in accordance with conventions agreed in the Global Societal Domain).
It was an easy matter to strike up a conversation about John Wren; he was a man of mystery about whom people liked to have an inside story. A list of contacts was soon built up: old people who had lived near the Collingwood tote (betting shop) in the early days, enemies of the Wren machine in the political, sporting and business worlds, erstwhile associates of Wren who had been cast off when their usefulness ended, and, in a few instances even members of the Wren machine and friends of the Wren family. (And from the Shared Memory of Collaborative Groups).
One contact led to another like an endless chain. Every piece of information had to be checked, verified and put into place in a card system of events covering sixty years. (Reflecting Hardy's personal application of Metadata Elements, but using materials and system elements drawn from the Capture, Organise and Pluralise dimensions. Note that the card system also captures and preserves a series of communicative transactions. It formed part of Hardy's personal recordkeeping system. Hardy's use of a card system represents an individual case of implementing socially endorsed rules that govern the documentary form appropriate to the transactions in which Hardy was engaged).
There was no risk he wouldn't take, no hardship he wouldn't endure. The job became a thing in itself; he seemed to have no thought for where it would end or of the consequences success would bring. (In terms of the Information Continuum Model, the main participant in the communicative transaction at this stage is Hardy himself in the role of author, engaged in the creative process that leads to the writing of the narrative in the form of a manuscript of the novel, and presumably using very low level technology. Note that the manuscript as a documentary form is a societal dimension or collective memory element, deriving as it does from what Chris Hurley refers to as ‘socially endorsed rules'
about document making). (Hardy, F. 1961. The Hard Way: The Story Behind 'Power Without Glory', Goldstar Publications, Hawthorn Vic.,1971 reprint, pp. 44-5).
Throughout this enterprise, Hardy and his wife lived in fear. Signs of stalking and eavesdropping convinced Hardy that he was in danger, and as he collected the material for his book he took constant precautions to keep his
objective a secret. When the book finally appeared he was arrested and tried for criminal libel. (Thus exemplifying Kaufer and Carley's Motivation phase of the communicative transaction - and referencing aspects of the third and fourth dimensions of the Information Continuum Model associated with the socio-legal structures in which Hardy acted).
Frank Hardy coming out of court after his arrest in 1950:
A flood of subsequent communicative acts were prompted by Hardy's original action in writing the book, including the following:
Hardy himself wrote an autobiography, The Hard Way (quoted above), in which he explained why he wrote the book, how he had collected the information he needed, how he actually went about writing the book, and how it was published. Much of it was factual, but even at the time of publication (1961), he still remained secretive about some details, and exaggerated his own role in researching the original novel.
He also gave an account of his arrest and trial. The events before and during the trial comprised a multitude of communicative acts, by police and lawyers, journalists, and many people in the community discussing the issue. Subsequently, commentators, critics, TV drama scriptwriters and broadcasters all engaged in consequential communicative acts.
Many of these communicative acts, like Hardy's, are sure to be present in all four dimensions of the Information Continuum, having been captured and stored as re-presentable, recallable and disseminatable memory. Hardy enjoyed making a living from the legend he had created for himself.
Hardy was egocentric … He created his own myths and legends. (Pauline Armstrong 2000, p 201 - 202).
This is the dimension in which common controls are developed suitable for storing communicative actions within collaborating groups, including the materials and systems used, the identication and categorisation of stored communicative actions, the structures in place, and the way in which collaborating groups draw from, and contribute to, stored memory.
How was Power Without Glory captured? In terms of the factors operating in the Capture dimension, what type of common controls were applied, what collaborating groups were involved and in what structural context; how is Power Without Glory identified and categorised; what materials and systems were involved; how the collaborating groups draw from and contribute to stored memory?
What kind of interaction was occurring with the other dimensions? What recursive cycles of creation, capture, organisation and pluralisation were set in train by the publication?
The 700-page manuscript in itself captured an extensive process of research, analysis and literary imagination on Hardy's part. His communicative act was also captured in the form of a novel through the processes of printing
and publication. (This would normally have involved a range of participants in various roles utilising the common controls and protocols, materials and systems, forms of categorisation and socio-technical structures associated with printing and publishing, and drawn from the Capture, Organise and Pluralise dimensions. Similarly, the consequential communicative transactions referenced above, e.g. the writing of Hardy's autobiography, the development of the mini-series script, the legal documents associated with the trial for criminal libel, would also have been captured by various processes governed by second, third and fourth dimension factors. As we shall see, in the case of Power Without Glory , the capturing process involved was self-publication).
In the cold-war atmosphere of Australia in 1950, and given the power of the Wren machine, no publisher would touch a book such as Power Without Glory .
(Reflecting the interaction of Action/Structure elements from the third and fourth dimensions (Corporate Framework and Societal Control) with what is happening in the Capture dimension).
In the end Hardy had to print the book himself, in secret, and in small segments, using all sorts of begged or borrowed facilities. Finally he actually had to buy a printing machine. The binding posed enormous problems, and
he again had to resort to do-it-yourself solutions. (Involving Technology elements available to Individuals and Collaborating Groups Action/Structure elements at the Collaborative Action level).
Then came the problem of distribution, which was solved by selling the book privately through Trade Union meetings. (Involving Action/Structure elements at the Collaborative Action/Organisational Framework levels, Technological
elements at the Corporate System level, and Storage/Memory elements at least at the Corporate Memory level).
The publishing of Power without Glory led to a vast amount of communicative activity -- illustrating recursive cycles of creation, capture, organisation and pluralisation. Both Frank Hardy and his subject, John Wren, were historical figures, so that in the controversy surrounding the book much biographical and discursive documentation was generated. Which would have drawn on the work at least in the Creation and Capture dimensions). The work was eventually widely published and distributed in many languages throughout the world. (An aspect of Pluralisation.)
As indicated above, Hardy's trial generated official court records, as well as extensive press coverage. (Such documentation is likely to be present in all four dimensions -- Create, Capture, Organise and Pluralise).
Frank Hardy arrives at court in 1951 with his wife, from a newspaper photo:
There was an ABC TV serial dramatisation of Power without Glory in 1975, sold for screening internationally. (Again a number of the captured and stored communicative transactions associated with this production are likely to be present in all dimensions. The broadcast quality master videotape of the series, for example, is part of the archival holdings of Australian Archives).
There were follow-up books such as Hardy's autobiography, Brennan's defence of Wren (Niall Brennan, John Wren: Gambler-- his Life and Times , Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1971), and other works of commentary, both scholarly and popular. (Also associated with all four dimensions). The Organise and Pluralise dimensions: Power Without Glory and associated documentation in
organisational and collective memory.
This is the dimension in which captured communicative actions are organised to meet the needs of an organisation or information community, including the materials and systems involved, the identification and categorisation schemes used, the structures in place, and the way an organisation or information community draws from, and contributes to, stored memory.
This is the dimension in which captured and organised communicative actions are brought together and shared beyond and among organisations and societies, including the materials and systems involved, the identification and categorisation used, the structures in place, and the way in which organizations and societies draw from, and contribute to, stored memory.
How has Power Without Glory come to form part of organisational and collective memory and what is its status as memory? In terms of the factors operating in the Organise and Pluralise dimensions, what type of standardized controls were brought to bear, what organisations and information communities were involved, how did they interact and in what structural context; how has Power Without Glory been identified and categorised; what materials and systems have been involved; how has it functioned as stored memory?
What kind of interaction has occurred with the other dimensions? How have the recursive cycles of creation, capture, organisation and pluralisation set in train by the publication played themselves out in the third and fourth dimensions?
Aspects of these questions have already been addressed in comments on the Create and Capture dimensions, particularly the ways in which elements from the third and fourth dimensions govern processes relating to the creation and capture of individual communicative acts that take place in the first and second dimensions, and provide the socio-technical context of those acts. Power Without Glory and many of the associated and consequential captured communicative transactions have been able to continue to function as stored memory at the organisational and collective levels through the following specific corporate frameworks and societal structures.
Controlled by metadata standards that are endorsed at the level of the Global Domain, and implemented at the level of the Organisational Domain, e.g. Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules/MARC (machine-readable cataloguing standards), the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress classifications systems, and Library of Congress subject headings. Enabled by technology that operates at both the Organisational System level (e.g. shelving and local IT applications) and the Inter-organisational System level (e.g. electronic networks like the Internet, information systems architecture). Reference works, abstracting and indexing services (i.e., secondary sources for study and scholarship which facilitate recall and dissemination).
The systematically structured information resources of official and court records that constitute the corporate archive and form part of the collective archives.
Managed by the attribution of metadata at least at the level of the Organisational Domain in accordance with standards and best practice that derives from the Global Domain. Enabled by technology that operates at both the Organisational System level (e.g., shelving and local IT applications) and the Inter-organisational System level (e.g., electronic networks like the Internet, industry standards for computer equipment hardware and software).
When finally the book was quite widely available, through the efforts of Hardy and his supporters, and overseas publication, the Wren family invoked a little used law in which libel was treated as a criminal offence, punishable by
imprisonment. The police arrested Hardy for the alleged libel of Mrs Wren, not John Wren himself. In the book -- because of the deterioration of her marriage -- the fictional Mrs West takes a lover. It is on this point -- not the accounts of organised crime attributed to John Wren -- that Hardy was tried. It was a sensational trial lasting some nine months, with massive press coverage. In the end Hardy was acquitted, because the prosecution could not prove that the fictional Mrs West was Mrs Wren, without at the same time conceding that the corrupt Mr West was Mr Wren.
In considering the Wren defenders and the complexities of capture and organization, the contrasting positions of the accusers and defenders of Wren, we confront the complexities particularly of the Capture and Organise dimensions of the Information Continuum Model, which impact significantly on the status of the work as collective memory. (Note that what is controversial is not whether or not the work forms part of our collective memory -- it clearly does. The issue is what kind of collective memory?)
Brennan argues persuasively that the trial, which took place when Wren was 80, was a fiasco. He writes:
It was a case rich in the absurd complexity of the law, and a fine example of how the machinery of justice can defeat its own ends (p.211). It was seen by the public in simple terms. That Wren had 'lost' meant that Hardy, having won, had been correct. Thus Power Without Glory came to be regarded as the definitive life of John Wren; and the legend grew apace on this thin substance of innuendo (p.214).
Brennan also argues that there is an underlying bigotry, and a bias towards the Communist position, throughout Hardy's treatment of his subject.
In our own time we have experienced the Demidenko/Darval affair concerning a novel The Hand that Signed the Paper , falsely represented as the work of an ethnic Latvian Australian, which received the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. There have been recent reports of books and paintings by non-Aboriginals being passed off as the work of Aboriginals. On the other hand there is an honourable tradition of writers using pseudonyms -- like Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot, who as women assumed male personas so that their novels could be published in 19 th century England, and Mark Twain who simply adopted a more catchy, folksy pen-name.
(We also have the relatively new genre of television docu-dramas. Sometimes these are so close to being a portrayal of ‘real' events that, as in the case of Blue Murder, a mini-series made in 1995 about police corruption in New South Wales, featuring characters with the names of their real-life counterparts in the police force and criminal underworld, broadcasting has been banned in the particular jurisdiction to which they relate. In the case of Blue Murder, there was and has been no screening in NSW because it might be prejudicial to contemporaneous legal proceedings relating to the events in question and the television network involved does not want to risk contempt of court action.)
So we remain puzzled by works that are ambiguous in their status. When a creative work such as Power Without Glory is captured as a book or mini-series and offered as part of our collective memory, how is it to be regarded -- as a fiction, or as reliable documentation about particular people at a particular time? In order to begin to unravel such questions, we need to develop a better understanding of the transition from creation to capture to organization to pluralisation.
The Power Without Glory example illustrates that the meaning of documents within shared collective memory depends in part on their treatment during Capture, and in the Organise dimension, e.g., the categorisation or metadata applied to them might influence their status as collective memory by influencing a reader's response to a text -- if 'John Wren' were assigned as a subject heading for Power Without Glory for instance, this might increase a reader's preparedness to accept its historical veracity.
A mass gathering took place last week in the ballroom of the Trades Hall, the like of which has not been seen since the days of the Bolshevik Revolution.
In fact, many of the 300 people in attendance were so old that it would have come as no great surprise to learn that hey had personally taken part in that world-shattering event. They would certainly have been of the appropriate political persuasion to do so, since quite a few were former members of the now defunct Communist Party of Australia.
At one time, according to Bob Menzies, these people would've shot or enslaved you as soon as look at you. Camps were constructed for their detention and laws enacted to ban their political activities. These days, most of them look like they'd be lucky if they could shake their walking sticks in your general direction, although they wasted little time in dispatching the platters of cheese and crackers laid out on tables in the Trades Hall bar.
They were gathered together not to participate in a reunion of the Veterans of the Class War, or to attend the annual general meeting of the New Dawn Sunset Home for Ancient Agitators, but to witness the launch of a book.
Written by one of their number, old commo Pauline Armstrong, Frank Hardy and the making of Power Without Glory examines the facts and rumours behind one of the most intriguing stories in Australian literary, legal and political history.
Power Without Glory , Frank Hardy's famous novel, was printed secretly in Melbourne in 1950 by members of the Communist Party of Australia. Set in the shadowy world of gangsters, gamblers and political henchmen, it was produced with the deliberate intention of bringing into disrepute the businessman John Wren, sections of the Catholic church and certain members of the state Labor Party.
The underground and collective nature of the book's production and the sensational libel case that resulted from its publication immediately became the stuff of legend.
Power Without Glory cast the thinnest of fictional veils over a number of actual people and events. To add to its piquancy, typed lists were circulated that identified which character corresponded to what real person. As a work of propaganda, a continuation of he Australian radical tradition and a literary groundbreaker, Hardy's novel literally became part of the landscape.
Collingwood, called Carringbush in the novel, named its municipal library the Carringbush Library, a title it retained for almost two decades until changed to something more prosaic and geographical during the period of council amalgamations in the mid-1990's.
When a version of the book was serialised on television in the mid-1970s, the federal Labor caucus was rumored to adjourn its meetings early so members wouldn't miss an episode.
Perhaps the most fictional figure connected with Power Without Glory was Frank Hardy himself. Launched by the book into public prominence at the age of 33, Hardy went on to publish several other significant novels and innumerable short stories, assuming the mantle of Henry Lawson - embellishing his reputation and re-inventing himself as he went along.
A gambler, drinker, womaniser, self-promoter, tightwad and scrounger, he alienated many who had been instrumental in the production of the book that made his name.
Among other things, he was for 24 years the reigning champion of the Australian Yarn Spinning Competition, during which time he wrote a complex psychological novel about the loss of faith in communism, and conducted a love affair with Nana Mouskouri.
In the late 1960s, he met the Gurindji stockmen of Wave Hill station, in the Northern Territory, and became one of the first white champions of Aboriginal land rights. Among those who spoke at his funeral in 1994 - held, appropriately, at Collingwood Town Hall -- were Mick Langiari and Gough Whitlam.
When Power Without Glory was written, the revelation that certain politicians were under the control of gambling bosses was cause for scandal. Fifty years later, it is a simple fact that entire state governments have fallen captive to the gambling industry. According to official figures, gambling now provides about 10 per cent of all state government revenues.
To compound the issue, these funds contribute to a budget surplus which the politicians are unwilling to spend on urgent social necessities lest they spook the financial speculators who call the shots behind the scenes.
If the antique Reds who gathered last week at the Trades Hall were again to marshall their collective resources for a contemporary version of Power Without Glory , they might consider calling it ‘Cash Without Credit'.
See the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1997), Bringing them home: Report of the national inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families , Commonwealth of Australia (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/special/rsjproject/rsjlibrary/hreoc/stolen/).
Charles Perkins, an aborigine who died recently, addressed archivists as bearers of a great responsibility: to tell Australia:
You people, you archivists, have a great responsibility. You are carrying it out pretty well. You didn't do much in the past but you are doing quite a bit now in the last five to ten years. You put out this publication [Ros Fraser (1993), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Commonwealth Records: a guide to records in the Australian Archives , AGPS, Canberra] and you mounted the Between Two Worlds exhibition [Between two worlds: the Commonwealth government and the removal of Aboriginal children of part descent in the Northern Territory: and Australian Archives exhibition]. I saw it when it was launched in Sydney. It is telling Australians in a very strong and positive manner just exactly what history was all about.
Some people like to ignore history, they say: 'Well, it didn't belong to me. That was my forefathers. They did all that, they shot and killed everybody, or they raped everybody and did these sorts of things. But it wasn't me you see. I'm just a politician, the Liberal politician in Canberra, and I didn't do any harm to anybody'. So that's the sort of thing we have today.
Your responsibility is to tell Australia, to get the information together, the primary source of that information, and have it available. If we don't want to look at it, our generation, the next generation will look at it, and make judgement on how we were in the past, what was our history. . . As for me. I was born up the creek here. I'm of Arrernte descent, from this country. My mother, my grandmother, and going right through, for about forty, fifty, sixty thousand years. Not a bad length of time. Just up the road here -- we call it the Bungalow -- it was a sort of prison that we lived in. It was a police compound. In the book here [Fraser (1993)] on one of the pages it says: 'A squalid horror, the Alice Springs Bungalow. Children herded like swine.' Well, that was me. That was my mother and my brothers and my sisters, my aunties, my uncles - the whole lot of them were there. That's the sort of history I had. . .'
It was pretty hard there and you'll read all about it in this book. That's the sort of history that people have to reflect upon. That's the sort of history, and that's the sort of circumstances people like myself have been brought up on. That's why we're scarred for life, we'll take it to our grave.
Charles Perkins (1997). Keynote Address. Archives at the Centre: proceedings of the 1996 conference, 24-25 May 1996, Alice Springs, ASA Inc, Canberra (pp.4-5).
Paula Hamilton writes:
One of the most powerful myths that dominates the Australian historical landscape is that this is a new country (the corollary of Britain as the old country) and that we have a short history. Indeed, travelers to Australia from the nineteenth century onwards would often comment that they perceived it as a place without history. The idea of an historical tabula rasa is of course a settler story, a British migrant story, told by several generations of English and European migrants to each other. Memories of invasion and death of indigenous peoples could more easily be erased, or at least attenuated, by the migrant experience.
But in the last thirty years there has been a huge shift in our understanding of what constitutes an Australian past, aspects of which are now fairly well outlined. We have begun to perceive organized structures of forgetting in relation to the Aboriginal people, structures which the historians both helped to erect, and many years later, to break down. (pp 12-13).
Hamilton refers here to the role of historians in helping to organise and later dismantle 'structures of forgetting' but she could equally well be referring to the role of information management professionals. (Consider, for example, the way records management, archival and library classification and indexing schemes construct the past, while enabling and limiting access to information. Think about the implications of using a subject term like ‘European settlement' rather than ‘European invasion', or of using the term ‘pre-history' to refer to the period before European settlement/invasion. Reflect on the way that name indexing schemes that use the European names of Aboriginal children and places mask identity and kinship/country ties, and therefore limit access to records that are vital to the link-up programs that are trying to re-unite Aboriginal families. Consider the dilemma of whether to use terms like ‘half-caste' avoiding causing offence by sanitising or censoring the past.
Hamilton goes on to discuss the 'emotive power for the politics of memory in contemporary Australia' of the 'separation of families in a systematic policy of racial destruction' that continued in some states until 1969. The memories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who belong to the Stolen Generations are being retrieved, recalled and disseminated through the songs of Archie Roach ('They took the children away'), works of art and creative writing, television documentaries and films, the oral and written testimony presented to the National Inquiry, and the archival evidence, e.g., as exhibited by the National Archives of Australia in ‘Between Two Worlds'. Their remembering is reconstructing our collective memory and our national identity.
What role are information managers playing in this process? What role should they be playing? What does this case tell us about the politics of memory and the role of metadata management in the building of ‘interpretive interfaces' with the past and the building of ‘structures of remembering and forgetting'? And what role does the deployment of technology play?
The dynamics and politics of memory are challenging issues for information professionals. In order to explore issues about the politics of memory and the role of metadata management and the deployment of technology in the building of ‘interpretive interfaces' with the past and the building of ‘structures of remembering and forgetting', browse the recommendations of the following Report: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. (1997). Bringing them home: Report of the national inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families , Commonwealth of Australia:
( http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/special/rsjproject/rsjlibrary/hreoc/stolen/ ). For background information on this report, also visit HREOC's home page at
http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/index.html . Identify the recommendations in the Bringing Them Home report that relate to information management and their implications for the information professions, with particular reference to Giddens's concept of memory.
Baird, R. (1997). Researching the displaced children. In Archives at the Centre: proceedings of the Australian Society of Archivists Conference , Alice Springs, 24-25 May 1996, ASA Inc., Canberra.
Burke, P. (1989) History and social memory. In Butler, T. (ed). Memory, history, culture and the mind, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
Connerton, P. (1989). How societies remember , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Darian-Smith, K. and Hamilton, P. (eds). Memory & history in twentieth-century Australia , Oxford University Press, Melbourne (pp. 9-32).
English-Ellis, J. (1996). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols for archives: a review commentary. Archives and Manuscripts , 24 (1), 146-153.
Hamilton, P. (1994). The knife edge: debates about memory and history. In Krippendorf , K. Some principles of information storage and retrieval in society. General Systems , 20, 15-35.
Stein and Zwass (1995), and Stein, E. W. Organisational memory: review of concepts and recommendations for management. I nternational Journal of Information Management , 15 (1), 17-32.
Stein, E. W. and Zwass, V. (1995). Actualizing organisational memory with information systems. Information Systems Research, 6 (2), 85-117.
Teski, M. and Climo, J. (eds). (1995). The labyrinth of memory: ethnographic journeys , Bergin and Harvey, Westport.
Graeme Johanson 23 August 2005.