Summary of first #archivehour

Archive hour launched today in the UK and I participated. Well, archive hour launched yesterday (last Thursday of the month), but due to the time difference, it was today in Australia (last Friday of the month).

It was first announced only 1 month ago, but in that short time, the #archivehour Twitter page accrued over 700 followers and made over 400 tweets. The aggressive advertising campaign was un-ignorable, and somehow non-irritating, due to the excellent diversity of gifs used (my favourite being this one closely followed by this one for the hypnotising factor). There’s probably a whole case study there in how to get that many followers that quickly without being marked as spam.

This month’s topic was digital preservation.

As a records analyst that works in a recordkeeping governance unit in the public sector (a University), I’m very interested in digital preservation. I work to govern and help manage both temporary and permanent electronic records. So for me, digital preservation isn’t just about permanent records, it can also mean ensuring records are accessible for a ‘short’ period of time. That short period could be 6 months, 2 years, 15 years or even 50+ For digital records, even five years can be a long time, and a huge challenge, to ensure that the records remain authentic, reliable, have integrity, and are usable for the entire retention period (the four characteristics of a record from ISO 15489).

#archivehour went very quickly. One minute it was 6.02am and I was just settling in with my English Breakfast tea (it was based in the UK afterall), and the next minute it was past 7am and I hadn’t finished! I felt like I was trying to secretly write in an exam after “pens down” was announced, when I frantically tried to wrap up all my fresh tweets and replies and read all the notifications just after 7am. In the end I was nearly late to work even after getting up so early!

It was great to see the records continuum theory get a mention very early on:


I was also excited to see a nod to Information Asset Registers:

(I liked a lot of Jaana’s tweets and am now following them!)

Minds were blown when I mentioned that much research data has a retention period of only five years. Some data has a longer temporary sentence (retention period), and some is permanent, but a lot of it is temporary. As a records continuum theory influenced records and archives professional, I feel that (organised, authorised) destruction of records is sometimes just as important a consideration as retention (and preservation) of records.

As shocking as this may be to some recordkeepers, it’s worth pointing out that records with a short retention period such as two years, might be ‘preserved’ just by managing them ‘in place’. Even if that means keeping them within an email account (but at least try to make it a role account so it’s easier to keep custody of the records if a staff member leaves).

As a recordkeeper who’s more interested in the story of the recordkeeping, in why and how particular records are captured and kept or deleted, I couldn’t resist my slightly-angsty reply to the 2nd last question this morning:

Overall, #archivehour was an interesting discussion. I feel that I represented temporary recordkeeping in a discussion that at times seems more geared towards digital preservation equalling permanent preservation. I hope I represented the fact that temporary records also need to be considered.

Keep an eye out for the next #archivehour – last Thursday of the month UK time, or very early on a Friday morning Aussie time!



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