Thursday, April 7, 2011

Saving Social Media

One of the Friday morning, April 1 sessions at the Society of NC Archivists/SC Archives Association conference was "Collaboration and (in) Records Management." My riding partner/roommate and I agreed to attend different sessions to compare notes on the way home.

This session doesn't directly apply to me but it still deserves a post because of the cool stuff the State of NC Archives is doing. Kelly Eubank, head of electronic records at the Archives, talked about social media use and archiving those records - can you even imagine?

What might be obvious to some people already, she stated that when an institution creates a Facebook page, Twitter account, etc., it is the institution's page meaning no privacy and follow the rules if you use the accounts.

But what got me to log out of my personal social media page :) was the next part. Kelly said that the State Archives is collecting and archiving posts from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. It is called geospatial data archiving.

There are many issues with archiving electronic data but the main one is that printing it out does not preserve all the data. For example, in Microsoft Word, there is a properties tab which shows when it was created, changed and who created it. That is lost or not available if it is printed. The same goes with e-mail messages - you can't see which servers it went through which could be helpful, especially in state government.

Before information services was less enthusiastic about working with the Archives, she said to at least create a PDF of the information - don't leave it in Word or as an e-mail message. After years of building (and it is a daily struggle) a relationship with information services and other departments, Archives does get most electronic information in a good format to archive. Like this institution there are many privacy issues and that could potentially be another post entirely.

Lastly and I have saved the best for the last. When Governor Hunt was serving as the head of the state, the Archives received 6 GB of electronic material. After Governor Easley left office, Archives received 290 GB of electronic files.

So this archiving of electronic data is only going to get bigger and archivists continue to learn and persevere.

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