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INF 389G Introduction to Electronic and Digital Records
Unique # 27935, Spring 2010
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Professor: Dr. Patricia K. Galloway

Course Meeting Times
Mondays 12:00 p.m - 3:00 p.m, UTA 1.201A

Course Description
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 and some standards have emerged, 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 suggestive emails by congressmen) or you suddenly realize that you have lost the only digital photos you still had of some crucial event in your life. Yet as both governments and other human institutions and individuals have depended upon technologies of memory to assure their own longevity in the past, it is a safe bet that they will continue to do so in at least the immediate future (as, for example, Barack Obama's Blackberry). 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 themselves.

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 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 persoaded to do in the way of digital recordkeeping in the workplace, 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 daily developments in the field over the semester in order to get a feel for how to do so, 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.

Professor: Dr. Patricia K. Galloway
Phone: (512) 232-9220
Office: UTA 5.436
Office Hours: 9:00 a.m -11:00 a.m Tuesday or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Arturo Longoria
Contact Information: Please contact by email or by appointment