Friday, July 25, 2008

On The Train (ICA Congress day 3), July 24, 2008

I did not expect much on the third day as I could see where the rest of the community going with their issues on technology. So for the third day I decided to listen on the soft part. Two Ozzies, One New Zealander and one Papua New Guinean convincingly talked about the need for archives community to forged strategic alliances with other compliance or what they term as Accountability Authorities like risk manager and auditors to ensure good record keeping in general. Of course in our case we have been doing this and we need to identify other opportunities to leverage. In fact we could use our allies to help us to convince our management. We have a tough journey ahead of us as firstly our digital contents are huge and some of them not organize following certain standard. To build in certain standard workflow and process would be a nightmare. At least the international community had come out with certain framework and guidelines on how we can do this. Nevertheless it would be a long journey.

The reason I sat through two Chinese presentations after the break was to learn and find ideas on how to ‘sell’ our archives products. The first one with the title Memory of the Globally Important Agroforestry Tradition: Archiving the Jinping Manuscripts as Indigenous Documentary Heritage in China the presenter shared with us their experience on how they actually research for the said manuscripts and work with the Mao/Hmong and other indigenous people of China. To these people those manuscripts are the most valuable documents detail their rights for certain lands and territory and some of them dated back to Ming Dynasty. The study on these manuscripts indicated a very advance sophisticated land management system. They would never part with their manuscripts at any cost. The researchers know that it would not possible for them to preserve the documents without heir help. Of course the best way for the researchers was to work closely with them and proposed, one, establishing a village museum and two, capturing the manuscripts in digital form. To me the value of all these things is beyond historical, it is about human development. If you know rural China here we are talking about some of the most beautiful mountain villages, some even historical. Listening to them talking about their experience I was even more convinced that the job or archivist, librarian and information and knowledge manager is both noble and interesting.

The second presentation was behind the backdrop of the recent earthquake in Sichuan province. Apart from human life the earthquake devastated some of their archived records. The sad and heroic stories were told with enough salvos to indicate even in devastation they remain objective and strong. Again telling us the importance of good record keeping and the inevitable used of technology. Ironically the next session that I wanted to attend went missing from the schedule.

The only snag for me was that my ‘expensive’ phone hangs on me the whole day and made my life a bit miserable.

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