Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I guess the dicussion last night really got me thinking, because this is my second blog and it isn't even noon yet. I have more thoughts from the class last night about the great issues brought up by my colleague Tom Jenkins. Great thoughts, which really got me thinking. Can we really be bias and free of historical interpretaion, if we are deciding what gets digitized and goes up on the web. Historians could find information on our web site and come to conclusions, not realizing that there is information in our holdings that will counter their argument. I don't think this will be a huge issue in Still Pictures, but it could cause great debate in the Textual units. The provenance issue is also very intriguing. I'll be thinking about it for a while. The Archives organizes its records based on two principles, provenance and original order, but I don’t know if our digitizing efforts would compromise either. When a digitized record is attached to an item level description in our Archival Research Catalog (ARC), it is not being mixed with records of another agency or office, so I’m not sure if any provenance is lost. The record is still accredited to its creator and ARC provides a link to the series and record group that the record came from. Also, the digitized image is not the record copy. The record copy is still in its original order in a box on a shelf somewhere, so I don’t know if that is lost. Hopefully researchers will understand this when looking at images on the web. Of course, I said hopefully. Now, on-line exhibits could have records from various records groups and series, but I don’t believe the target audience for on-line exhibits is our typical researcher, like a historian or lawyer, so would provenance and original order be an issue? Furthermore, if cited properly, all items in exhibits should refer back to the record group and series that the record comes from. Now, born digital images that appear on our web site, will not have any problems with provenance and original order, because the entire series will be up. Actually, in some cases, scanning projects that go up on the web could include an entire series. Man, I better get back to work, before head explodes.

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