Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Fighting for the record

In her History Matters column in Canada's History Magazine Deborah Morrison, President and CEO of Canada's History reflects on attending last January's gathering of Canadian archivists at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

One of the key paragraphs in the article is "It was generally agreed that the greater priority was not digitizing the records we already have but, rather, developing a strategy for collecting and storing the massive amount of new records being created today."

I don't entirely share that perspective.  If its true that we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003 (ref) how much material of lasting value is in it? Is it important to seek to archive the mass of mostly ephemeral electronic text material produced today?

In my view such material is more akin to oral interaction, of which only a minuscule fraction has ever been archived, than the hardcopy documentary material traditionally archived. Even in the olden days of hardcopy only a fraction of the material produced has ever been captured in archives; an important part of the work of an archivist has been deciding what's worth preserving.

Thanks to Chris McPhail for drawing this article in Canada's History Magazine to my attention.

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