Reflection on ‘Recordkeeping theory, models & strategies and today’s workplace’ March 2021

By Barbara Reed

Our recent Recordkeeping Roundtable event was inspired by James Lappin’s recent article, Rival records management models in an era of partial automation.

This was a welcome contribution, partly because so much of the current records discussion is being focussed down on how to implement records controls into an environment that is actively hostile to implementing our professional standards and practices. The advent of the Microsoft 365 juggernaut has thrown recordkeeping practice into something of a spin. Our carefully crafted records controls are all but impossible to implement in any sustainable way. Practitioners are struggling with the pre-defined way that the application forces operations when alternative methods are preferable. In that environment it is almost compulsory to question our methods and to work out what can be jettisoned as no longer relevant.  

Continue reading
Posted in Post | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Online event: Recordkeeping theory, models & strategies and today’s workplace

Provoked and intrigued by the recent discussion spurred by James Lappin’s article (cited below), the Recordkeeping Roundtable crew have been inspired to create a virtual panel discussion, featuring James, Chris Hurley, Andrew Waugh and Nicola Forbes.

We’d love you to come along – its free!!

What: Recordkeeping theory, models & strategies and today’s workplace
When: Thursday 18th March, 6-7pm (AEST)

Registration: Go to registration page on Eventbrite – registering should provide you with an email linking to the zoom invitation.

How well are the recordkeeping theories, models, strategies coping in the workplace dominated by technological determinism of the Microsoft behemoth? Come and hear a distinguished panel consisting of scholars, theorists and practitioners consider this issue in the light of James Lappin’s recent article on the subject.

Our panel

James Lappin blogs at and recently wrote the thought provoking article ‘Rival records management models in an era of partial automation’ in Archival Science available free at

Chris Hurley is an internationally recognised recordkeeping continuum theorist and is widely known for thought provoking musings which challenge the status quo. His writings and musings are to be found at

Andrew Waugh works at Public Record Office of Victoria and is widely known for his involvement in managing electronic records through the VEO models. His provocation ‘Email: a bellwether records system’ is particularly relevant to this discussion, available here

Nicola Forbes is the Director Information Governance for the Fair Work Ombudsman. She has worked for a number of NSW government agencies and has had oversight of complex programs utilising multiple technologies and grappling with the practicalities of recordkeeping in the workplace. She blogs at

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A review of Archival Futures (Caroline Brown, ed.) by Adrian Cunningham

Longtime friend of the Recordkeeping Roundtable Adrian Cunningham worked for 36 years in collecting archives, government archives and in university settings and research projects. During that time his work traversed almost all functional areas of archival endeavour, with his latter-day focus being on digital recordkeeping and digital archiving. He has published widely and now operates as an independent consultant and is a member of ISO TC46/SC11 Committee on Records Management and Archives and as a member of the International Council on Archives Experts Group on Archival Description.


This review was commissioned by The American Archivist, which will publish a version of the review that is about half this length in Volume 82, Issue 1 (Spring/Summer 2019). The author is grateful to the Recordkeeping Roundtable for agreeing to publish the full, unabridged review. The book in question stirred more thoughts and reactions than could be squeezed into the 1500 word limit of a review for The American Archivist.

Predicting the future is a courageous, perhaps foolhardy, undertaking. A friend of mine once proposed to write a book called “Past Futures” highlighting some of the more ludicrous attempts to predict the future that were ridiculed by hindsight. Nevertheless, preparing for what the future might bring is prudent—even if it just takes the form of trying to comprehend the changing world around us and our place in it. As William Gibson once said, “the future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed” (p. 17). To help us grapple with our possible futures Caroline Brown, an educator and university archivist from the University of Dundee, has assembled a short, varied, but eminently readable collection of essays from an impressive range of leading international archival thinkers.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Recordkeeping Roundcasts Episode 5: Personal data, privacy and looking ahead

EllenHeadshot-15In part 2 of our chat with Ellen Broad, we talks about privacy and changing attitudes to data about – and of – ourselves.  Ellen’s book, Made by Humans: The AI Condition is available from Melbourne University Press, or from all the big online book retailers. You can read Ellen’s bio after the transcript.

Continue reading

Posted in podcast | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Recordkeeping Roundcasts Episode 4: AI, accountability and archives

51CJrKcgvFL._SY346_In this latest episode of Recordkeeping Roundcasts, we talk to Ellen Broad, author of Made by Humans: The AI Condition, about the way that rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are being deployed in business, government and society, and the wide ranging implications of their adoption. Ellen and the Roundtable’s Cassie Findlay discuss on real world results flowing from machine decision making, accountability for the use of these systems, the role of recordkeeping and archives, and changing perceptions of  privacy in the data economy.

Made by Humans is available from Melbourne University Press, or from all the big online book retailers. You can read Ellen’s bio after the transcript.


CF: I am thrilled to be talking to Ellen Broad today. Ellen is the author of Made By Humans: The AI Condition. There’s a link available from the site too. There’s information about the book and where to buy it. I heartily recommend it. It’s very timely. Look at the ethics and the societal implications really of what seems like ever increasing gallop towards the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in so many different aspects of our lives. And of course, for the recordkeeping people like myself and hopefully people who follow this series of recordings, there are lots of things about the adoption of this technology that make us think about what our jobs are and potentially what our jobs might be in the future as far as keeping evidence in the way that these systems are set up through to trying to promote accountability around decisions to deploy the technology. So, first of all, hello Ellen, and thank you very much for joining me.

EB: Thank you very much for having me. Continue reading

Posted in podcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Recordkeeping Roundcasts Episode 3: Machine learning


Robot | by Sebastianlund

In this episode, we conclude our three part conversation with The National Archives UK’s John Sheridan, with a chat about machine learning and its possible applications in the management and use of records.

Our thanks again to John for being generous with his time and offering us so many interesting ideas. Remember to subscribe to the TNA blog for updates on the many interesting projects underway there.

You can subscribe to this podcast series on Google Play; iTunes is having a little moment with adding new podcasts but hopefully soon.


CF: Now, we have a short period of time remaining, so I hope I can continue for another little while with the conversation, if that’s all right with you, if you’ve still got the time.

JS: Absolutely.

Continue reading

Posted in podcast | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Recordkeeping Roundcasts Episode 2: Project ARCHANGEL and distributed ledger experimentation

In this episode of Recordkeeping Roundcasts, we pick up the conversation with TNA’s John Sheridan, turning to the experimentation that he and colleagues at allied institutions are doing in distributed ledger technologies.

For background, take a look at this recent post by Alex Green on the TNA blog about Project ARCHANGEL.


CF: It is a critical juncture, I think, for archives in all forms. Certainly, as you’ve articulated, the expectations for digital records, digital information, discoverability are exerting pressures on archives. I need to move on, as I could talk about this stuff all day. Continue reading

Posted in podcast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Recordkeeping Roundcasts Episode 1: Scale and complexity, with John Sheridan

Welcome to Recordkeeping Roundcasts, a series of conversations with interesting people who are doing interesting things.

John-Sheridan - CopyIn this first episode the Recordkeeping Roundtable’s Cassie Findlay is talking with John Sheridan, Digital Director at The National Archives UK, about the challenges of scale and complexity that come with digital recordkeeping. As background for this conversation, take a look at TNA’s Digital Strategy, released in May 2017.


CF: It’s terrific to be speaking to you, John Sheridan from The National Archives UK. Thank you very much for agreeing to chat with me about a number of topics of interest.

JS: It’s a real pleasure to have this opportunity to talk about all these great things that we have to think about. Continue reading

Posted in podcast | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Flipping our focus

This week I got a strong response on Twitter for this tweet & image:

So I thought I’d share an excerpt from the talk, which was originally presented in Reus, Catalonia, as part of the Association of Catalan Archivists’ annual conference, bits of which were then included in a talk in Dublin organised by the National Archives of Ireland. Thanks so much to all my fabulous hosts.

Of course, many of these ideas are not new, nor are they mine alone. In particular, my Roundtable colleagues have written on this theme here on this blog and I’d encourage everyone to have a look (especially at ‘Reinventing Appraisal‘ and ‘Reinventing Access’).

Continue reading

Posted in Post | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment