Archive for June, 2008

Archives 2.0

How do you turn an organisation that has, since its inception, focused on the preservation of print records, into a leading advocate for the government’s digital agenda?

This is the question currently facing Archives NZ. I’ve been working recently on an Information Systems Strategic Plan (ISSP) for this agency. As a part of this their CIO asked me to write a paper on the way the organisation might use Web 2.0 technologies and approaches to assist in this transition.

They’ve kindly let me publish the paper on my site. Here’s an excerpt:

In order to use Web 2.0 technologies externally it may be necessary to affect culture change internally. It is not uncommon for people who have spent much of their professional careers using traditional methods of taxonomy, records keeping and information management, to be cautious of, or resistant to approaches which are inherently messier and less ordered.

Embracing Web 2.0 methods, and harnessing the power of community contribution means being willing to give up some control. The Archives NZ culture must support this if these kinds of initiatives are to succeed. Peter Van Garderen in a post on his archivematica blog says:

archival institutions are going to have to accept the rise of grassroots archivists. Not as barbarians at the city gates but as value-adding partners that share the goal of preserving historical memories and experiences. In his excellent webcast presentation, Are the Archives Doomed?, Rick Prelinger discusses the emergence of what he calls ‘archives groupies’ and the wonderful, often unexpected results that occur when users are invited to participate in the organization and use of archival collections.”

In exploring the use of Web 2.0 approaches it is very difficult to predict what will work, and what won’t. The best method in this context is to try many things and keep those that are successful. This requires a culture that is tolerant of failure. It must be acceptable for initiatives not to work, as long as people learn from them and adapt as a result.

Download the paper to read more.

We need to start from the cold blooded premise that almost everyone is a genius - not that almost everyone is worthless.
John Taylor Gatto