I-CHORA 5: "Records, archives and technology: interdependence over time"

“Human societies have created records for more than four millennia. The shape and form of records and archives, methods for creating them and approaches to keeping and using them have always been determined by currently available technologies, and are inevitably affected by changes in technology over time.

Yet, while technological change has often brought innovation in the creation and management of records and archives and facilitated new ways of using them, it has also given rise to challenges for those seeking to preserve and maintain access to records; challenges that are particularly acute in our own era as a result of the digital revolution.

I-CHORA 5, organised by The National Archives of England, Wales and the United Kingdom, the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies and the Department of Information Studies at University College London, will address the subject of ‘Records, archives and technology: interdependence over time’. The conference will explore this subject from a historical perspective, but will interpret it as broadly as possible.

It will consider the evolving interrelationships between records, archives and any technology, not just the digital technology of our own time; and will embrace any kind of interdependence, including the role, challenges or opportunities of technology in creating, maintaining or using records. It will provide an opportunity to examine these topics from the standpoint of different disciplines, including philosophy, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, history, archival science, computer science, law and literary and cultural studies.

The conference will build on the success of the previous I-CHORA
conferences in Toronto (2003), Amsterdam (2005), Boston (2007) and Perth (2008). It will be held in London from Thursday 1 to Saturday 3 July 2010, immediately before the FARMER-NAET conference in Oxford.

Thursday 1 July 2010
10.45 am – 1.00 pm

Welcome: Professor Colin Jones, President of the Royal Historical Society

Keynote paper: Tying the Archive in Knots: recordkeeping in ancient Peru – Gary Urton (Department of Anthropology, Harvard University)

• A Historical Review of the Telegraph’s Impacts on Communication and Recordkeeping in Colonial Administration: the case of Britain and Hong Kong – Yui-tat Cheng (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

• Plus Ca Change … the salutary tale of the telephone and its implications for archival thinking about the digital revolution – Valerie Johnson (The National Archives)

1.00 pm – 2.00 pm Lunch

2.00 pm – 3.30 pm

• Medieval Commonplace Books: rhetorical devices, information technologies or merely sites of storage – Bethany Sinclair (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland)

• The Private Political Archives of the Venetian Patriciate: storing, retrieving and record keeping in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries – Dorit Raines (Universita Ca’ Foscari, Venice)

• Maps as Recordkeeping Technology – Andrew Janes (The National Archives)

3.30 pm – 4.00 pm Tea

4.00 pm – 5.30 pm

• Narratives of Technology and Bureaucracy: contemporary images of office environments 1870-1940 – Barbara Craig and Heather MacNeil (University of Toronto)

• The Role of Furniture as a Personal Record Keeping Technology in the Late 19th Century – Heather Dean and Jennifer Meehan (Yale University)

• The Archives Reading Room: past, present and future – Sigrid McCausland (Charles Sturt University, Australia)

Friday 2 July 2010
9.00 am – 10.45 am

Keynote paper: Documents in Practice: supporting collaboration with material artefacts – Paul Luff and Christian Heath (Kings College, University of London)

• Making and Keeping: the function of psychiatric records between hospital administration and scientific knowledge – Volker Hess and Sophie Ledebur (Institute for the History of Medicine at the Charite Berlin)
Abstract:
The presentation focuses on how hospital records were invented in relation to the development of bureaucratic techniques. Such techniques, diffused from the writing desk of the hospital administration into the wards, and from there into the daily practice of the attending physicians. We will enfold this argument with a case study presenting the development of the hospital records at the Charité in Berlin, the largest hospital in Prussia in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

First we will follow the administrative techniques using forms and schemata for regulation of the hospital infrastructure (treating fees, food and diet, admission and discharge etc) from the early 18th century up to early 20th century. Second, we will elaborate on the interrelation between these administrative techniques and the development of patient record keeping. Following the development of the record schemes we will present the first forms from the early 19th century and focus then on the psychiatric records archived subsequently into the 1880s allowing us to gain a detailed perspective on the development of the files. A special aspect will be the fact that all medical records at the Charité existed in duplicate up to the First World War. The original – the archived version – stayed at the ward, and a copy was kept by the registration office. Third, we will look at the impact resulting from the schematizing of the patient history, as well as at the information used for treatment, teaching and knowledge production. All three points will help to understand the crucial function of hospital records as technology in administration and in knowledge.

• Management and Technology of Recordkeeping in the Archives of the GDR State Security Service () – Karsten Jedlitschka and Ralf Blum (Die Bundesbeauftragte fur die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR)
Abstract:
The Office of the Federal Commissioner (Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR, BStU) preserves the records of the former State Security Service of the German Democratic Republic (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS) and makes them available for various purposes. Its headquarters are in Berlin and it has branch offices with their own archives in the former capitals of the districts of the GDR.

The heart of the office are the archives with the Stasi legacy. They reveal the methods of the regime of the former Communist party and mirror the power and the knowledge of its secret police.
It is one of the largest archives in Germany with a total of more than 100 km of records. In addition to the written legacy, the MfS documents also include numerous audio-visual data media, such as photos, slides, videos, films and sound recordings.

On the one hand, the Stasi legacy consists of files already archived at the time of the MfS and on the other hand those materials, which the service units were working on up to the peaceful revolution of 1989/90.

In the four decades of existence the MfS archive division developed a sophisticated system to manage and store its records. The permanent growth of tasks and bureaucracy generated a steady urgency for further improvement of this system. The core of the Stasi archives administration was the card indexes. To make them more efficient, the archive division started in the 1960s to introduce new technical devices. Great hope was put on the new electronic data processing, starting in the 1970s.

10.45 am – 11.15 am Coffee

11.15 am – 12.45 pm

• Responding to Change through Technology: a case study from the National Monuments Record showing how technological innovation has changed the nature of the record itself – Martin Newman (English Heritage National Monuments Record)

• History and Continuity: the UK Government’s response to the challenges of the World Wide Web – Amanda Spencer (The National Archives)

• Making Sense of the Modern Email Archive: recordkeeping strategies and technological challenges – Jason R. Baron (US National Archives and Records Administration) and Simon J. Attfield (University College London Interaction Centre)

1.30 pm – 3.00 pm

• A Flip Side of Technological Advancement: the negative impact of technology on the preservation of the history of Queen’s University – Deirdre Bryden (Queen’s University Kingston)

• Machine Methods and the Development of the Student Information System: Two Canadian Universities, 1959-1965 – Tom Belton (University of Western Ontario) and Jim Suderman (City of Toronto)

• ‘These are My Records.’ The effect of technology on the changing relationship of the creator with institutional records – Heather Briston (University of Oregon)

3.00 pm – 3.30 pm Tea / Walk to the British Library

3.30 pm – 5.00 pm Talks at the British Library

7.00 pm – Drinks reception and conference dinner, UCL

Afternoon venue B: The National Archives (places limited to 47)

12.45 pm Travel to The National Archives by coach

1.30 pm – 2.15 pm Lunch at The National Archives

2.15 pm Welcome: Oliver Morley, Acting Chief Executive of The National Archives

2.25 pm – 3.55 pm

• Dismantling Bureaucracies and Technological Change: impacts on recordkeeping and the influence of organizational culture – Gillian C. Oliver (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand) and Kurmo Konsa (University of Tartu, Estonia)

• Introduction of Electronic Registration in Danish Central Government Administration – Else Hansen (Danish National Archives)

• Drivers and Cars (1898-2009): traffic records management in Spain over time and procedures automation. Archival implications and consequences – Rosana de Andrés Diaz and Luis Casado de Otaola (Ministerio del Interior, Spain)

Saturday 3 July 2010
9.00 am –10.45 am

Keynote paper: Mapping the Terrain of the File: machines, methods, and notions of modernity in the British Civil Service, 1890-1956 (abstract) – Barbara Craig (University of Toronto)

• Printing the Archives: Oxford Archives c.1850-1950 (abstract) – Michael Riordan (St John’s and The Queen’s Colleges, Oxford)

• Towards a History of Recording Technologies: the damp-press copying process (abstract) – Michael Cook (Centre for Archive Studies, University of Liverpool)

10.45 am – 11.15 am Coffee

11.15 am – 12.25 pm

• Persistent Identifiers, the Docquet System and a Tudor Revolution in Government – James Currall and Michael Moss (HATII, University of Glasgow)

• Reflections on the Contributions of Historical Ideas about Metadata to Recordkeeping in a Global, Digital World – Anne Gilliland (Department of Information Studies, UCLA)

12.25 pm Summing up and close”
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