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Next Cardigan Continuum South meeting

The next meeting of Cardigan Continuum South will take place at the Ebb and Flow Café Bar in Southampton on Tuesday 1st December 2015 at 7:30pm.

In a shocking break from the norm, we will be listening to a podcast, rather than reading an article. You can download or stream the podcast from the IRMS website: Barclay T. Blair on big data, information governance and records management.

We will be pondering general questions about the relevance of big data and information governance to our own archive and records services, and asking whether traditional records management is ‘broken’ (as NARA would apparently have us believe).

Everyone is welcome, so if you’d like to come along, please email and we’ll reserve a spot for you.

Hope to see you there!

Sarah Gerrard (in Hampshire) and Kate Watson (in Dorset)

Pondering Provenance

On Monday 14th September, seven hardy souls met to discuss the W3C Provenance Standard. Everybody agreed that it was interesting to see another community’s take on provenance and that it did offer some reassurance that we were not alone in our belief that provenance was a very important concept with the potential to bring all sorts of benefits, if it could be harnessed and implemented. We did have doubts though about how these benefits might be realised and we felt that in our experience, recognition that ‘the question of how to collect adequate provenance, especially from end-users, is a challenging open problem’ (1) was probably something of an understatement.

As to the question of how it might be of benefit to archivists and records managers, we considered that it was a useful document for the following reasons;

  • It can act as a tool to build common understanding of provenance between the profession and IT professionals. It was envisaged that giving our IT colleagues a copy of this document, written as it is in a language they are more familiar with, would probably get our point across a lot more effectively than talking about Jenkinson and the fonds.
  • It can act as an educational tool for us, acting as it does as a reflection on and deconstruction of an idea that tends to be so all-encompassing for us that we find it hard to see it at all. For example, one answer, to the question ‘what have you learnt from this document’, was ‘that provenance is not as complex as I thought it was’.

On a personal note, I was left thinking that perhaps we (as a profession) do have a tendency to want to see provenance as this hugely complex and difficult thing since that then supports our sense of identity through our claim to a special understanding of and expertise in it? Indeed one of the things we found it quite hard to do at the meeting was to articulate what we could add, what we knew as archivists and records managers that would support the claim that we are the experts in provenance? If you have an answer to that one, please add it below.

  1. Requirements for Provenance on the Web”, Paul Groth, Yolanda Gil, James Cheney and Simon Miles, International Journal of Digital Curation, 2012, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 39-56.

All things digital

On 10th July 8 archivists and records managers from the south met at a bistro in Bournemouth to discuss all things digital!

We came from a range of backgrounds, from universities to local authorities to a religious order. This was great because those experiences meant we had different perspectives on what to digitise and how to deal with born digital records.

Our first subject for discussion was the blog post “For God’s sake, stop digitizing paper” by Joshua Ranger. We thought the blog’s message wasn’t clear enough and wished it had more of the argument that audiovisual materials are in greater danger of obsolescence. Even so, it provoked discussion about how the public expects to find records online but don’t understand the amount of work needed to get them there.

Next, the 2011 presidential address by Helen Tibbo in the American Archivist led us to talk about opportunities for the profession. Ideas from the group included how to help our organisations deal with huge digital volumes by promoting/legitimising destruction and being a hub of knowledge. We spoke about how archivists are often driven by a love of content and preserving history, which may be limiting how we take these chances.

We talked about it being difficult to make decisions about what digital records to keep. Decisions are needed upfront but we can’t always foresee future uses. A useful example was that digitised records can be used to study physical formats when the quality and resolution is high enough.

It was a helpful get-together as the subject meant everyone had something to offer, though with it being so broad we went off on lots on tangents! Looking forward to the next one…

Exploring an alternative perspective on provenance

After a long hiatus, the next meeting of Cardigan Continuum London has finally been organised for 14th September at 6pm.  The challenge for those coming along is to read and gain some understanding of the W3C PROV Standard.

According to the W3C Group on Provenance ‘Provenance is information about entities, activities, and people involved in producing a piece of data or thing, which can be used to form assessments about its quality, reliability or trustworthiness.’ Is this a definition we recognise? Is this a standard we understand? What (if anything) does its development mean for archives and records management? Can we even follow the standard, expressed as it is in a language many of us are not familiar with? All these questions and more will be open for discussion, so please join us.

The venue is to be confirmed, so please email me at if you would like to come along and I will send you the final details in due course.

P.S. If you get stuck – this article might help “Requirements for Provenance on the Web”, Paul Groth, Yolanda Gil, James Cheney and Simon Miles, International Journal of Digital Curation, 2012, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 39-56.

Next Cardigan Continuum South Meeting

After a bit of a hiatus, we are pleased to announce that the next meeting of Cardigan Continuum South will take place in Bournemouth on Friday 10th July 2015 from 7:30pm.

This time, we will be looking at whether we are ready to meet the challenges of digital preservation. We will be reading ‘For God’s Sake, Stop Digitising Paper’, a blog post by Joshua Ranger, and having a think about Denbighshire Archive’s approach to delivering archive services.

If you feel like a little extra reading, check out pp.18-25 of Helen Tibbo’s ‘A Profession Coming of Age in the Digital Era’, which gives a nice overview of why the digital challenge makes this an interesting time to be a recordkeeper.

If you would like to come along, please email and we will send you more details nearer the time, including venue info. Please also get in touch if you can’t make this date but would be interested in attending future meetings.

We hope to see you there!

Sarah Gerrard (in Hampshire) and Kate Watson (in Dorset)

Happy 2015 to one and all

The first meeting of Cardigan Continuum London will be held on Wednesday 25th February at 5.30pm in the Arts and Humanities Staff Common Room, Foster Court, UCL [directions]. In a spirit of renewal in keeping with the arrival of the New Year (and copying Cardigan Continuum South) we will be reading ‘Reinventing Archival Methods in the Hague‘ by Cassie Findlay. This paper comes from a recent initiative of the Recordkeeping Roundtable, kindred spirits on the other side of the world.

The meeting will also discuss, inspired by all this talk of reinvention, the future of Cardigan Continuum. We have been going now for over three years, plenty of time to get into a rut, so all thoughts are welcome as to how (or if) we want to do things differently.

Last meeting of 2014

First of all many apologies for the delay in arranging another meeting, but I have been quite busy undertaking a research project for the day job. I will try to do better after Christmas, but was hoping that I might be able to hijack a quick meeting before Christmas to discuss something I have written as part of my research. The date I have in mind is 18th December at 6pm and we will meet in the Arts and Humanities Staff Common Room in Foster Court, UCL. The piece in question can be downloaded from here, and it is essentially a summary of recommendations made by people from outside archives and records management in regard to personal archives and recordkeeping. I am trying to work out what (if anything) we (as archivists and records managers) can learn from it and what we think we can usefully feedback to those working in these other fields. As I will be using the results of our discussion for my research, I am afraid that everyone who attends will need to complete a consent form (also downloadable) but apart from that everything will be exactly the same as a normal meeting – something to read, something to discuss and with it being nearly Christmas, seasonal nibbles to eat and something to drink. I hope to see some of you there and, even if you can’t make it, I hope you find the summary interesting as a different perspective on things.


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