Thursday, 4 June 2009

A step closer to making Records Management2.0 a reality?

Readers of ‘Managing the Crowd’ will be aware that I ended the book with some suggestions regarding how records management functionality could be successfully integrated into and applied to Web2.0 content. One of these was to create “a folksonomy service that can penetrate ddep content, at an individual content level, across multiple service providers". I argued that the logic underpinning social bookmarking tools such as Delicious already took us many steps forward in this direction. Obviously at present they are only used for resource discovery but (I argued) there was no reason why this functionality could not be extended to also allow the individual user and the ‘crowd’ to which they belong to also assign retention and management criteria alongside search metadata.

At the time of writing the book the main factor preventing this from making the leap from theory to practice was that “at present, Delicious works at a level above that required for our purposes. It may allow users to tag individual web pages, but does not extend this functionality to enable tagging of ‘deep web’ content, for example documents within a Google Docs account and presentations within Spresent.” (pg 131).
Earlier this week I was sent the following email announcement being sent to all owners of lists hosted by the JISCmail service.

“From Tuesday 16th June, every list homepage and every posting stored on the JISCMail online archives will include a bookmark/share button which will have links to a selection of social bookmarking/sharing sites.

Social Bookmarking allows you to share, store, organise, search, tag and manage webpages you would like to be able to revisit in the future, or share with others. For example if a posting is made to a JISCMail list that you know will be of interest to someone else you can email a link to that person using our button. Alternatively you can choose one of the social networking sites you are registered with, e.g. Twitter or Facebook, to share the link with a group of people. You might use the sharing button to bookmark a link to your list homepage or a particular posting on a list that you can revisit at a later date on a site such as Delicious.”

So there we have it: it is now possible to extend the reach of social booking down to an individual file level (in this case the millions of emails archived on the JISCmail website). Now, of course there may be many other technical, professional or practical obstacles preventing the realisation of my idea but it seems to me that one potentially major one may just have disappeared…


John Burke said...

I'm not sure yet if this is new technology that links to the original email file or whether it takes advantage of JISCmail's consistant URLs which in turn will always call up the same email, turning it into a web page.

If the website in question generated inconsistant URLs or masked the real URL because of the use of frames, for instance, there might still be a problem?

Steve Bailey said...

Hm, you could be right John. I guess we shall have to wait until its launch on June 16th to find out more.

Either way there may be value in exploring the use of persistent identifiers as one way of applying management controls at the item level.

John Burke said...

...or in identifying the barriers to being able to apply records management functionality - a more positive term than "control"! ;-)

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is how bookmarking records in systems will provide useful categorization for disposition. I get that it will help hightlight the most popular docs, links, content . . . but is that sufficient for determining which content should be preserved and which content should be deleted? Am I missing something?

Steve Bailey said...

One of the suggestions I make in 'Managing the Crowd' is that it might be possible to build on the concept of tagging for resource discovery to add other fields. So, as well as asking the user how they would like to describe an item (as bookmarking tools do at the moment) we could also ask them a limited number of simple questions regarding their view of the value of the information; questions such as 'Did you find this information useful? (yes/no); should we keep it for another 12 months?' (yes/no).

What I argue is that this represents a scalable way of helping to assess the informational value of content, based on the aggregated views of all those who come into contact with it (and wish to express and opinion on it).

It should be said that this data is suggested as evidence to help the appraiser make a final decision (Not least as there are many other factors to consider when deciding to keep or delete information, such as its evidential and historical value) but may represent a valuable analytical tool at our disposal nonetheless

Jon Shepherd said...

I was interested to note a reference to 'users tagging material with their contexts' in an article by Bill Stockting in the latest June 09)SOA ARC magazine. It was in relation to Encoded Archival Description and a meeting of US archivists asked to 'think the unthinkable' about archival description. Technologies such as information visulation and text mining were also mentioned.