Where is the record we have lost in information?
Pember, M. and Cowan, R.A. (2009) Where is the record we have lost in information? In: Pember, M. and Cowan, R.A., (eds.) iRMA Information and Records Management Annual 2009. RMAA, St Helens, Tasmania, pp. 1-15.
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The management guru, Peter Drucker, believed that “Every task of a developed society requires management”. This is especially true of recordkeeping. The dictionary definition of management is “the act, manner, or practice of managing, handling, supervision, or control”. The basic premise of records management in ISO 15489 infers exactly this; it is all about the control, handling, supervision, and organisation of records.
Today we can reformat, remix and ‘mashup’ information, and create composite information objects containing numerous different formats, such as video clips, text, and static images. These may result in the creation of a complex record. At the same time organisations are still producing relatively simple records. How many of these records, regardless of complexity, are managed effectively to meet the needs of the specific organisation in a specific industry sector? How many of these organisational records become lost in the information fog? Is this something records and information managers should be concerned about?
Information growth is exponential. A simple Internet search provides much information about the rate and scale of this growth. For example, studies into information growth carried out by the University of California, estimate that information increases at a rate of more than 30% a year. How does this impact the average organisation, its information, its records and its recordkeepers? Are records in danger of being lost and are recordkeepers in danger of becoming marginalised, as Thibodeau suggested, because of the computing power that now exists and the sheer amount of information that flows through even the smallest organisation? Should we be questioning whether the ISO standard and indeed the concept of a ‘record’, is relevant in the Web 2.0 (soon to be Web 3.0) world? Are those characteristics which define ‘recordness’ still relevant in this environment? The medium might be somewhat changeable but what of the message?
This paper highlights some of the problems recordkeepers are faced with today and argues that the concept of a ‘record’ and the need to ‘manage’ it are as valid in the Web 2.0 world as they were in the mid 1990s when Australians developed the first recordkeeping standard.
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