Tuesday, 24 July 2007

First chink in the armour of Office2.0?

I was interested to read an email sent to me and all other users of the spresent web2.0 presentation application promoting a new version of the product - Spresent WinTonic. According to the product blurb this version (for which there is an annual licence fee as opposed to the free version I currently use) is 'spresent for windows'. The rationale for this development is, according to their FAQs, because of notebook computers and the fact that "Notebooks are not always connected to the Web, so having Spresent installed on computer would allow to work on presentations at any time"

Several thoughts as to what this might imply spring to mind. On the one hand it could just be viewed as the developers simply plugging an obvious gap in their product and thus helping to improve the user experience, which in turn is likely to increase take-up of such services.

However, I also suspect another by-product of this kind of thing will be to further blur the distinction between a user's desktop and their online activities - further adding to management complexity. I haven't seen any information about how it handles online/offline version control and synchronisation and would be interested to see how this works and what sort of 'footprint' is left behind on the user's machine.

But could it also be that the release of this product is recognition that most people are not yet ready to take the leap into a fully online existence? After all taking a fully online, zero-footprint, web2.0 application and then sticking a little bit of it back on the client desktop does seem like abit of a 'one step forward, two steps back' moment in the overall evolution of web/office 2.0.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

'Records Management Update' Conference

Readers of this blog might be interested in attending a one day seminar being held in London on 25th September. Its a Records Management Update seminar and promises a varied and interesting looking programme exploring many of the themes covered within this blog.

My own contribution on the day will be to present a session which asks 'Is it time for records management 2.0'

Hoep to see you there!

Further information and booking details are available from www.unicom.co.uk/recordsmanagement

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Archivists as "Data Storage Specialists"

I was interested to read a letter from my old colleague, David Ryan, published in that 'Bible' of the IT industry Computer Weekly a couple of weeks ago. David's letter serves to remind both the IT industry, and perhaps equally importantly we as professional archivists and records managers, that our professional skills in data storage are greatly - an increasingly - needed in the digital world. The question is, why aren't we better at promoting ourselves in this way and what can we as a profession do to address this?

David's letter is reproduced in full below.


Dear Sir,

Re: Storage Reports in Computer Weekly, 22 May 2007

Having been a qualified Archivist, and therefore, a Data Storage Specialist, for over twenty years, I was bemused at your recent reports on the alleged lack of career definition in data storage and the legal issues surrounding storage. I have been within the last decade Head of Information Management for a major pharmaceutical company and more recently, Head of Digital Preservation at the UK National Archives, where I designed the PRONOM file format recognition system and, with colleagues, built TNA's Digital Archive.

I, like many other archivists, have written on the topic on data retention. In 1997, ten years ago, the Records Management Journal published an article by Steve Bailey and myself on the uses of a retention schedule database. This was based on practical experience. It may be useful for your readers who are dealing with the ever growing volume of data their organisations produce, to consult not only their in-house counsel but their local Records Manager or alternatively, seek advice from the Records Management Society or Society of Archivists. The members of these two bodies are dealing with the selection of data for long term storage in all formats on a rational basis every day of their working lives.

David Ryan

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Digital preservation & the Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

An interesting press announcement from The National Archives today regarding a new arrangement with Microsoft which allows TNA to take advantage of the Microsoft Virtual PC for preservation purposes.

It seems as though this may well represent a very useful way forward for dealing with stand alone or simple OLE (Object Linking & Embedding) MS Office files. Such content certainly represents a large proportion of many organisation's digital holdings so this looks like a promising development.

Of course the Microsoft Virtual PC will not provide an environment for being able to access any of the countless examples of non-MS file formats and systems that exist ranging from CAD packages to multi-media files - nor will it be an answer for how to access content stored in databases of long forgotten and unsupported formats. I've also been reliably informed that there might be some additional complexities when trying to accurately render Exchange/Outlook files, but it is a start nonetheless.

What was also interesting was the comments Natalie Ceeney made on Radio 4 today to accompany this announcement. As well as drawing on the classic cause celebre such as the varying fortunes of the Domesday Books of 1066 & 1986 she pointed out how the issues of digital prevation now mean much more to the ordinary person in the street thanks to the range of digital sources people now rely on in their every day lives. Perhaps a few crashed hard drives and lost digital photos will help get the bigger message across where previous attempts have largely failed...