Could archives & IT learn from each other?
I would LOVE to get into a discussion about correlations and possible interplay between archival theory and practice (what might be termed “traditional information technology”) and the work of thinkers and practitioners who are tackling similar problems in a purely digital realm. I am see lots of potential connections between these two fields, but little actual cross-fertilization of ideas.
For example, there is an ever-expanding pool of practitioners who call themselves Information Architects, and I have been struck over and over again by how similar many of their methodologies and ideals are to those of archival processing. One of the ways in which the Information Architecture Institute defines IA is as ”The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities, and software to support findability and usability.” Replace “web sites, intranets, online communities and software” with “primary sources” and you’ve got a pretty good definition of archival processing, yet I am unaware of major collaboration between the two fields.
I’m particularly interested in defining what usability (an idea borrowed from human-computer interaction studies) means in an archival context. What are the qualities of a highly usable archival collection? What would it mean to make usability a goal of processing, and how might that change what archivists do?
Date: August 6, 2009