OK, let’s get it out there.
I don’t want to manage information.
I really don’t.
And I’m sure many of you out there will agree with me.
I support government in managing information and ensuring the historical record, so I’m an information creator and user and an information professional. I exist in a world of perpetual contradiction…
I’m busy. I spend my days creating, processing, using, sharing, storing and talking information. My team has a way of working, a shared space to capture our work, and delivery channels through which to share it. I know what we’re working on, where it is and what it means to us. It works. For us. Sometimes I want to work on the move, drafting blog posts like this on a mobile device on a train. Sometimes I want remote access to our network so I can access the information my team are working on.
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On our Digital Continuity training course we cover a situation where the supplier of your records management system withdraws support. Yesterday the administrators of 2e2, who supply the Wisdom EDRM product, announced that that business operation had ceased following an unsuccessful attempt to find a buyer.
So what do you do in such circumstances? The Information Management Services team here at The National Archives have the following advice drawn from our Digital Continuity guidance: Continue reading »
We have the answer.
The answer to how to effectively manage your digital information.
And the answer is in the questions.
It’s that easy.
OK, bear with me a moment. At its most basic level, managing digital information is about making the appropriate decisions as to what level of time, resource and cost you’re going to spend to ensure you have the right technology supporting the right information in delivering the right business requirements. Once you know what that is, you can apply the people you need to work together using the tools they need to deliver the outcomes you need. See? Easy. And that’s the message at the heart of our rather excellent Digital Continuity training course.
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I’ve had this quote scrawled on a piece of Christmas wrapping paper that I’ve been carrying around since, well Christmas. Boxing Day to be precise.
It comes from Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects, chapter 19, The Mold Gold Cape. He describes how the removal of the skeleton at the dig site meant that they lost so much more potential information about the way people lived at the time. The story of the cape was only half told.
“For although the precious finds will usually survive, the context which explains them will be lost, and it’s that context of material – often financially worthless – that turns treasure into history.”
You might say that for our records it’s what turns documents from Peter and Jane into Shakespeare…
We’ve already spoken of the importance of context in managing information, but this is IMPORTANT. So let’s explore further. A few days after I was leafing through someone else’s Christmas presents, The National Archives released a set of Margaret Thatcher’s files. One of the elements that caused so much attention was her hand written notes in the margins of the papers. They bring so much more context to the documents, an insight into her thoughts and personality.
We're often faced with issues of missing context
I consider myself to be a sane and rational human being. Friends and colleagues may disagree. However, like most of us, I am a follower of the path of least resistance. I do not seek to make life more difficult for me than it needs to be.
For those of you asking what that has to do with managing records, the answer is ‘everything’. Continue reading »
I know we’ve only just met but I want you to do me a favour. I want you to lean over and pick up a sheet of paper. Done? Excellent! Now write something on it. Great! Now put it in a box, label it and put the box on the shelf for twenty to thirty years. As long as it hasn’t rained too much you should be able to pick up the box, take the paper out and still be able to read it. A little simplistic but you’ve just taken your first steps to managing and preserving the paper record. Congratulations.