INF 389G - Introduction to Electronic and Digital Records

Fall 2017
Unique ID: 28400
Prof:  Galloway, Patricia
Room: UTA 1.210A
Days:  Thur
Time: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Graduate standing.

Examines personal recordkeeping and information management to explore the creation, management, and preservation of digital information. Includes current developments in digital technology that affect recordkeeping.
Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

The management, preservation, and use of electronic records and
other digital objects with enduring (or even temporary) value are
almost all still problems with only partial solutions. Although
increasing progress is being made by archival researchers and
some standards have emerged for "simple" digital records, there
are two reasons why this open-ended situation will probably
remain constant: the supporting technologies are changing
constantly and the rate of change is accelerating; and creators
and users of these records (if not the records' potential
managers and preservers) are themselves caught up in a culture of
immediacy that makes the problems with electronic records
invisible until some legal entanglement brings them into sharp
focus (as, for example, the destruction of records by Enron, 9/11
terrorists, and the collection of emails by NSA)--or you suddenly
realize that you have lost the only digital photos you still had
of some crucial event in your life.

Yet since both governments and other human institutions and
individuals have depended upon technologies of memory in the
past, it is a safe bet that they will continue to do so in at
least the immediate future (as, for example, Hillary Clinton's
email server). For that reason these problems must and will be
solved, at least in terms of a sequence of temporary solutions
that will be good enough to achieve the ends of the institutions
in question and of individuals for their everyday lives, both by
those who are charged with the institutional custody and
preservation of the cultural record and by individuals

The problems are not just technological; if that were so they
could (and perhaps would) already have been solved. They are,
more importantly, social, economic, and political. The archivist
or records manager or digital librarian or individual called upon
to solve them in a real-world setting will have to understand not
just a set of ideal archival requirements, but how to cope with
applying them to and tailoring them for an actual functional
environment, one where change never ceases, where the people who
create and use the records have other things to think about,
where the powers that be continue to think of the problem as the
job of IT, and where getting it right once and for all is not an
option. Individuals can hopefully borrow from these institutional
practices the solutions that suit them--or they may devise novel
solutions for themselves. Increasingly, it seems that individual
practices are having significant impact on what people can be
persuaded to do in the way of digital recordkeeping in the
workplace (especially where BYOD is becoming common), so personal
digital archives is becoming an important area of research.

In this introductory course, we will become acquainted with the
basic literature on digital records and recordkeeping (and
contest the term "records"), track new developments in the field
over the semester in order to get a feel for how to pay attention
to emergent problems, apply our learning to coming up with a
business case for a real-world problem, and examine reflexively
our own digital recordkeeping practices over our lifetimes and at
present as a sample of the kinds of problems existing in the
broader environment.

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