Hedstrom electronic incunabula

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Hedstrom electronic incunabula


Summer, 1991 - this article has shaped research agenda in digital preservation  - it remains a "profound challenge"


  • We need a framework for research on elec. rec.


  • research on elec rec. issues should produce generalizable practices, methods and applications for management, preservation and use of elec. rec.


  • archivists have had no impact on the design of IT, and little influence over its use in organization


  • the word archive has lost its traditional meaning - to others it means to store data off-line which does not incorporate archivists understanding of the word (understand information in context, identifying records of value, retaining and making records accessible as long as they have value)


  • archivists need to be involved upfront with emerging technologies, intervene when new technologies are introduced into organizations - build into software applications, policies, and procedures records management and archival principles. they are prime for this because of their singular perspective on the relationship between the mission and the structure of an organization, its need for records, its information flows, its document structures.


  • need to know organization's social and and cultural environment in order to build effective methods/platforms of information  processing


  • "machines, processes and know-how are essential subjects for elec. rec. research" (pg 339)


  • Interpretations of the role of technology on society:
    • technological determinism - causality. A specific machine/process caused social change
    • social determinism - technology reflects decisions of individuals, industries, groups or whoever has power to decide what path technology takes
    •  technology is autonomous - under human control. One chooses (or not) how to use it . Consequences depend on how it is used.
    • social construction of technology - technology embodies human choices that influence design and how machine is intended to accomplish its objectives. All factors, such as design, acceptance/unacceptance of the technology are social processes shaped by rich interactions between cultural norms, economic/political power, social values, and the potential of a new machine or process. Provides optimism that archivists can have some influence with IT...regarding doing research - must examine application in the context in which it is applied.


  • She provides five general areas for research - these would still stand today. Her research questions are great.


  • Methodology: 1. Design of a research project should begin with the development of a hypothesis that can be tested. Must be able to accept, reject or modify the hypothesis and use it to answer specific questions. 2. All projects must account for the array of social, cultural, economic and political factors which affect records, as well as knowing the organizational structures/processes/culture of the organization one is studying. 3. Design research project with the "gradual nature of change that accompanies automation." Effects of a technology may not be revealed for months/years after implemented. 4. Avoid a priori assumptions related to IT - whatever is the latest little quip  - "computerization cuts costs" etc...5. Determine what types of expertise are needed - technological/sociology of organizations/communications/economics.....