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INF 389G Introduction to Electronic and Digital Records - Schedule, Spring 2010
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NOTE: This syllabus is preliminary until the first class meets and may change slightly through the semester if new issues come up.URLs change constantly, so if you find a dead link please do both of the following two things: 1) Stick the URL into the Wayback Machine at and see if you can find it there; and 2) Let our TA know one way or the other.

January 25: Background, overview of the field

Reminder about ordering textbook

Fill out questionnaire about educational, technical, and archival background (in class)

Discuss course and course assignments, including the personal digital archive management report and the "weekly news clip" posting on BlackBoard.

Topic: Overview of the field of digital recordkeeping; issues of home vs work in a changing social and communication environment. Lecture-discussion.

February 1: What is a digital record and how can I deal with it?

Topic: Definitions of "electronic and digital records" and the range of objects and environments that are implicated under this rubric. Discuss the archival view of digital records and the skills that seem to be required for coping with them. Students will be expected to have read the assignments and to be prepared to discuss them critically.


Anne J. Gililand-Swetland, Enduring Paradigm, New Opportunities: The Value of the Archival Perspective in the Digital Environment (Washington: CLIR, 2000)

Richard Pearce-Moses and Susan E. Davis, "Knowledge and Skills Inventory," in New Skills for a Digital Era (2006), pp. 1-31, available at The proceedings of this conference are worth reading as a whole if and when you have time, not least because three of the case studies are from the UT iSchool.


February 8 : Official digital records and regulation by statute and computer code

Topic: How people use and work with electronic records/digital objects, including differences that may be introduced by the electronic medium. Discuss the electronic environment and how it is literally legislated from scratch by computer code (and the implications of "net neutrality"), how real legislation deals with paper and digital records, and how individuals manage their own records. Review the MDAH project and how it has evolved 1999-2010; also discuss the TERM project and its "failure" (see March 8 also for email). How "record" and evidence are constituted and how hard it is to do this.


Lawrence Lessig, Code and other Laws of Cyberspace, Part 1 (1999). Available on e-reserves in two files, 1.1 and 1.2 (go here to get started). This is version 1, which Lessig refers to now as an "ancient text"; the revised version, revised via wiki, can be found as a free download or wiki at (you can add your own remix). If Lessig's work on how the digital environment changes the impact and meaning of traditional legal frameworks interests you, succeeding books include The Future of Ideas, Free Culture, and Remix.

Uniform Electronic Transactions Act summary: this act, passed in 1999, first made digital records officially acceptable in legal transactions. Find a short general summary at:

"Electronic Records standards and procedures," from TSLAC, revised 2005:  Also read the Texas public records statutes at Government Code, chapters 441.180-197 (Texas State Library and management of records), 551.021-023 (Open meetings records), 552 (Public Information law: especially subsections 101-136 listing exceptions and 272 on access to electronic records): For a list of all the national and international standards that pertain to the official handling of digital records, see a listing here:

Mississippi Department of Archives and History Electronic Records Project, Management Standards (1999).


February 15: Personal digital information and regulation by computer code

Topic: Non-official born-digital (and born-again-digital) objects and how they are managed and preserved. Discuss digital personal records, with a focus on the student project to manage a personal archive. Introduction of the instrument students will use to formulate their personal digital archives management plan.


Paradigm Project Workbook on Digital Private Papers (2006; read Introduction and Collection Development sections):

Andrew Fitzgibbon and Ehud Reiter, "Memories for Life": Manating information over a human lifetime (2003): download from this page (scroll way down), which has many more resources addressed to the same British Grand Challenge:

Neil Beagrie, "Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections," D-Lib 11(6), June 2005, available at

Simson Garfinkel and David Cox, "Finding and Archiving the Internet Footprint" (2009):

Clive Thompson, "A Head for Detail," Fast Company 110 (November 2006): This essay is an entertaining account of Gordon Bell's "life-logging" experiment about which more anon.

Personal Information Management, ed. William Jones and Jaime Teevan (hereafter cited as PIM), pp. 3-75, chapters 1-4 will begin our investigation of how people keep digital records, regardless of statutes.

February 22: Record granularity and metadata

Topic: Implications for records creators, archives, and users of record-level description and the generation of metadata to provide it. Discuss the issue of descriptive granularity and review various metadata schemes.


David Bearman, "Item Level Control and Electronic Recordkeeping" (this is a classic 1996 article that makes a very important point while summarizing the Pittsburgh project):

June 2000 international workshop on metadata, reported in Archival Science 1(3), 2001; read articles by Hedstrom, Wallace, and Duff. To reach the volume online, click on the "Find a Journal" link on UTLOL. Then type Archival Science in the search box and click the go button. The only entry on the results page is Archival Science. Clicking on that title gets you to the Archival Science page in the Springerlink system. Click on "Volume 1 Number 3/September 2001" in the left column (in blue) and you can see and subsequently get to the full-text of the articles.

Dublin Core metadata set current version (2006); review this primarily resource-discovery metadata set in the light of the readings above:

METS metadata set for packaging digital objects (current):


March 1: Passive vs active systems for managing desktop records

Topic: Records Management Applications (RMAs) versus careful and systematic exploitation of existing software. Review the Department of Defense 5015.2 EDMS-RM model and commercial implementations of 5015.2-compliant RMAs, practical efforts at implementation in Texas, Kansas, and Mississippi, automated vs creator-assigned classification, Microsoft's nascent efforts to invade this profit space, and a suggestion on why much of this is doomed to failure without further study of how people manage their "own" records.


DoD 5015.2 specifications (2000): and testing pages:

PIM, pp. 90-166, chapters 6-9.

Patricia Galloway, "Big Buckets or Big Ideas: Classification vs Innovation on the Enterprise 2.0 Desktop," (2008) available here (scroll down; you'll have to sign in to get this free paper):


March 8: Non-desktop genres of digital records and their management

Topic: Genres of digital records that lack paper analogs and their characteristics and problems. Review of email/IM, websites/blogs/wikis, databases, audio and video, etc. Note that many of these genres, especially (but not exclusively) when they are owned by individuals, are migrating into the cloud or never lived anywhere else.

Readings: Sample among these resources, picking at least one under each bold heading to talk about in class


Building a National Strategy for Preservation: Issues in Digital Media Archiving (CLIR, April 2002) provides a series of short summaries of the problems of different genres and media:

Email (and messaging):

Government of South Australia, Management of Email as Official Records (2006):

Marlan Green, Sue Soy, Stan Gunn, Patricia Galloway, "Coming to TERM: Designing the Texas Email Repository Model," D-Lib, September 2002:

Iron Mountain white paper: "Instant Messaging: The 'Perfect Storm' for Regulatory Non-Compliance," available on e-reserves.

Websites, blogs, wikis, social media:

Paul Koerbin, "Managing Web Archiving in Australia: A Case Study," from the 2004 WebArchiving Conference:   If you are interested in looking at the development of ideas and concepts in web archiving, you can find the WebArchiving workshops at: etc., 06, 07, latest is

Bonnie Nardi, Diane Schiano, and Michelle Gumbrich, "Blogging as social activity, or, wouold you let 900 million people read your diary?" (2004)

"Archiving Social Networking Sites with Archive-It" (note, this is basically screen-scraping; can you think of how if you were FaceBook you would be archiving everything from the "inside"?:


David Hill, "Database Archiving: A Necessity, not an Option," Mesabi Group Report, April 28, 2006.

DPE Briefing Paper, Database Preservation: The International Challenge and the Swiss Solution:

Audio and Video:

Library of Congress information on digital audio formats:

Howard D. Wactlar and Michael G. Christel , Digital Video Archives: Managing through Metadata: (the CLIR report mentioned above)

Sustainability of Digital Formats: Planning for Library of Congress Collections: Moving Images:


SPRING BREAK March 15-20


March 22: Centralized vs distributed models: custodianship

Midterm Essay: Students will write a timed essay in class on a topic taken from the lectures so far.

Topic: Where digital records should be archived and by whom. Discuss the issue of traditional archival custodianship, the challenge of postcustodial models, and the emergence of best practice in the form of the OAIS repository model.


Luciana Duranti, "Archives as a Place,"Archives and Manuscripts 24(2): 242-255 (1996). Available on e-reserves.

Terry Eastwood, "Should creating agencies keep electronic records indefinitely?" Archives and Manuscripts 24(2): 256-267 (1996). Available on e-reserves.

OCLC-RLG, "Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities," May 2002, AKA "OAIS Lite," available at:


March 29: Maintaining the archival bond: Provenance and context

Midterm class evaluation (i.e., you fill in a simple questionnaire to react to the direction of the class to date)

Topic: Provenance and how to maintain it. Discuss what provenance is and how provenance can be provided for digital records; discuss the complexities of multiple or joint provenance issues and changes/accumulation of provenantial history over time.


David Bearman and Richard Lytle, "The Power of the Principle of Provenance," from American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice, 2000, 345-360, available on e-reserves.

Maria Guercio, "Archival Theory and the Principle of Provenance for Current Records," from The Principle of Provenance, 1994, 75-86, available on e-reserves.

Raimo Pohjola, "The Principle of Provenance and the Arrangement of Records/Archives," from The Principle of Provenance, 1994, 87-101, available on e-reserves.

April 5: Permanence: media, formats, migration, emulation

Topic: How to keep digital objects "authentic" over time. Discuss what "digital preservation" means and what it is we are trying to preserve.


Julia Martin and David Coleman, "The Archive as an Ecosystem," Journal of Electronic Publishing 7, 3 (April 2002):

Jeff Rothenberg, "Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Information," available at:
This is the serious advocacy piece about archival emulation.

Digitale Duurzaamheid, "Approaches towards the Long Term Preservation of Archival Digital Records" (2001).

Phil Mellor, Paul Wheatley, and Derek Sergeant, "Migration on Request, a Practical Technique for Preservation" in Lecture Notes in Computer Sxcience (Springer, 2002), 516-526. Available at If you can't get this without paying, go through the library.

Helen Heslop, Simon Davis, Andrew Wilson, "An Approach to the Preservation of Digital Records," 2002, available at:

April 12 : Guaranteeing authenticity: security vs access

Topic: Authenticity vs access. Discuss the requirements of security for the preservation of digital records.


Peter Hirtle, "Archival Authenticity in a Digital Age," Authenticity in a Digital Environment (Washington: CLIR, 2000), 8-23; available at: The whole report is worth reading.

"How PGP Works, from Introduction to Cryptography," available at:

InterPARES, "Findings on the Preservation of Authentic Electronic Records," September 2002 (focus on pages 11-21 if you can't read the whole thing), available at:

April 19: Dealing with ownership: Gating vs sharing

Topic: Discussion of intellectual property issues in providing access to digital records.


Lessig, The Future of Ideas, Chapter 6, "Commons Lessons," available on e-reserves; and look at the Creative Commons website:

1976 Copyright Act, DMCA, Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extention Act, etc.

Peter Suber, "Open Access Overview" (2004).

Search assignment: Google "IP Management" and figure out who controls the discourse in this space.

See what Project Gutenberg is up to:

April 26: EAD and markup in general: finding aids and internal markup

Topic: Markup: what it is and what kinds are most important. Discuss markup as a resource discovery aid and especially the level of granularity of markup.

Personal Electronic Records Management Plan DUE


TRAIL markup handbook (look at all pages listed under "Resources for Electronic Liaisons"):

Janice E. Ruth, "The Development and Structure of the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) Document Type Definition," in Pitti and Duff (eds.), Encoded Archival Description on the Internet, 27-59 (2001). Available on e-reserves.

Anne Gilliland-Swetland, "Popularizing the Finding Aid: Exploiting the EAD to Enhance Online Discovery and Retrieval in Archival Information Systems by Diverse User Groups," in Pitti and Duff (eds.), Encoded Archival Description on the Internet, 199-225 (2001). Available on e-reserves.

Beth Yakel and Polly Reynolds, "The Next Generation Finding Aid..." Case study from New Skills for a Digital Era workshop, June 2006:

May 3: Access and the nature of the electronic record: New access modes, digital affordances, research approaches

Topic: Providing access to digital objects over time. Discuss markup vs various kinds of heuristics based on indexing, free-text search, pattern recognition, and data mining as means of providing access to digital objects.


Bill Palace, "Data Mining: What is Data Mining?" available at:

David Bearman and Margaret Hedstrom, "Reinventing Archives for Electronic Records: Alternative Service Delivery Options," in Randall Jimerson, American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice, available on e-reserves

Marieke Guy and Emma Tonkin, "Folksonomies: Tidying up tags?," D-Lib 12(1), January 2006.

View the talk by Luis von Ahn here: on the item labelled "new"). This should put another spin on the ideas introduced in the Yakel and Reynolds reading from last time.

Date for final examination to be set (watch this space)