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Announcing the Hilarys

October 10, 2013
The two trend articles under consideration at the last Cardigan Continuum London meeting certainly got the discussion going. Quite apart from thoughts about whether or not we recognised the trends identified and whether we could come up with some more, we also talked about the idea of looking for trends in general. 
We all saw the value in reflecting on what was going on in the wider world and trying to articulate that. Doing so then enabled us to think about what that meant for our own (archival/records management) interests and aims and how we should respond. From this point we then discussed the difficulty faced in keeping up with developments from both within and (especially) without the field. We commented that there was no UK equivalent of the ArchivesNext blog, in the sense that, although there are several excellent commentators on specific areas (e.g. digital curation, freedom of information etc), there was nothing quite as broad in outlook. Perhaps the archives-nra listserv acts in a similar way, or perhaps there is something else you think does?
And so, this train of thought led eventually to the idea of compiling a list of the most thought-provoking articles, books, ideas, news stories, technologies and so on that we had encountered this year from outside the field. To this end we have decided to seek nominations for our own version of the Oscars – the Hilarys (for want of a better name). These nominations will then act as the list suggested previously and help to draw attention to things you may have missed, but which you probably should be aware of. Please help us by leaving any nominations below. Nominations should take the form of details of whatever you are nominating plus a few words about why you think it should win.
All those attending the next Cardigan Continuum London meeting (date to be confirmed) will be deemed to constitute the awarding committee and get to decide on the shortlist. These will then go to a Twitter vote to decide the winners.
The categories are as follows;
  • Most thought-provoking encounter (the idea, article, book, news story, technology or whatever from outside the field of archives and records management that has had the most impact in making you think about what you do in a different way this year)
  • Most promising newcomer (a development from outside the field that has occurred in 2013 that you think is most worth keeping an eye on)
So get your thinking caps on and start nominating your favourites. The full list of nominations and the winners will be published here in due course.
  1. Tamara Thornhill permalink

    Nominating the Archives and Artefacts Study Network (A2SN). This informal body is doing great work at bridging the gaps between enthusiasts, students and academics with an interest in or a need to identify business archives and artefacts, and those archivists, professionals and other bodies responsible for such collections. The aim is to raise awareness of fields of study and untapped resources through informal networking, conferences, and an online blog. To date they have arranged highly successful events at Derby Conference Centre and London Metropolitan Archives, have presented at a UKAD event, and are currently organising conferences for 2014 and 2015.

  2. Thanks Tamara for our first nomination! Did you want to nominate them for one award in particular, or both? There is after all no reason why something shouldn’t be nominated in both categories.

  3. Thought it was time for me to make my own nomination – this time for most thought-provoking encounter. I would like to nominate the work of Brent Davis and Dennis Sumara on complexity science and education, e.g. Davis, B. and Sumara, D. (2007) Complexity Science and Education: Reconceptualizing the Teacher’s Role in Learning, Interchange, 38(1), 53-67 (available I have been reading a lot about educational theory this year as I have been undertaking a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education and getting used to my dual nationality as both an archivist and a teacher. Davis and Sumara describe the role of the teacher as that of ‘the consciousness of the collective’ in that the role is to ‘orient attentions and, with that orienting, to affect horizons of possibility’ and ‘to assist in the exploration of the space of the existing possible, thus opening up spaces of the not-yet imaginable.’ Fairly extravagant language perhaps, but it did make me think about whether or not the role of the archivist could be seen in a similar way.

  4. I’d like to nominate this article ‘Five Theses on the Future of Special Collections’ by John Overholt
    for the ‘most thought-provoking encounter’

    Not sure if Special Collections is really external to the world of archives and RM enough for it to count but it is an article that I’ve come back to many times and found it really interesting and definitely thought provoking.

  5. Not strictly academic but I would like to nominate the Guardian’s coverage of the NSA files (
    It provoked thoughts on a personal level about freedom, privacy, trust but also on a corporate level regarding openness, transparency and the need to spy on institutions and individuals. It led to many discussions among friends and fellow professionals about why nations or many people believe every organisation and institution has something to hide and moreover discussions on the value of privacy and freedom in democratic societies (a must, a dream, an aim?). And finally what is the role of the records manager in a world of mass data, mass surveillance, transparency and access? Are we left out or behind, are we undervalued or misunderstood?

  6. 80gb permalink

    Another vote for the Guardian’s NSA coverage, not actually for the content (although this is obviously hugely thought-provoking in itself) but rather I want to nominate this interactive visualisation – – as an example of how to present complex and ‘difficult’ information online in an engaging and stimulating manner. How could similar techniques be applied to archives?

  7. I’m still thinking about a most promising newcomer. In the meantime, I have two nominations for the most thought-provoking encounter.

    The more ‘academic’ one is this report on Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians (Although it was issued in December 2012, I’ve decided that it counts because I didn’t see it until 2013.)

    It’s instructive to see the perspective of academic historians – traditionally one of the archive sector’s most enduring user-groups – on archives, libraries and other ‘research support providers’. The report also attracted quite a bit of comment from bloggers in the archives and records sectors and related areas:

    My other nomination is all of the entries for The National Archives’ Files on Film competition, for which the winner was announced today: (Declaration of possible bias: the competition was run by my employer and sponsored by the Friends group of my employer.) The level of personal engagement with and personal response to the records that these short films show remind me of why I joined the archive profession to begin with.

  8. I forgot to say that I think that the Files on Film competition counts as ‘outside the field’ because the competition entries were made by people from outside the sector.

  9. Louise Ray permalink

    I was going to nominate the Guardian and the NSA files too – for the same reasons Nicole has articulated so well.

    Another news story that might also be considered would be ‘News International trlals’. A story that has been bubbling along for some time, the prosecution’s allegation regarding the removal of materials from a company archive has put record-keeping in the main news stories (for example

    I would like to add into the mix Arlette Farge’s ‘The Allure of the Archives’ published by Yale University Press Although the French original is almost 25 years old, this English translation was only published in September and it is a beautifully written first person account of using archives which captures the emotions of working with original documents. How could you not love a book that includes vignettes such as: ‘one veteran of the archives, striving to stave off boredom, slipped a ring on each of her fingers, just to be able to watch the light play on them as her hands flipped through these endless tall pages over and over again.’ I am nominating it as, although we are understandable concerned with trends towards digital connectivity, big data etc, this book acts as a reminder that documents have an emotional pull that goes beyond their informational value.

  10. 80gb permalink

    Are we allowed to nominate more than one thing in each category? Well I’m going to anyway.

    In the outside the field category – Two things which have got me thinking about users and digital (there’s a surprise):

    Empires of Attention: A Brief History of Attention I’m interested particularly in the ideas about storytelling and the circulation of culture. It’s also got me pondering about the history of users’ interactions with archivists and archival spaces, and how the physical spaces we’re accustomed to have shaped how we think about users/audiences/customers/participants/historians/Mrs&MrsSmith/…

    So if that was inspiration from the past, here’s another with inspiration (hopefully) for the future
    Mobile is eating the world
    A bit techie but slides 53 and 54/73 in particular. Especially 54 – ‘People happily abandon history’.


  11. Mark permalink

    How about a nom for archives-nra listserv itself?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Hilarys! My nominations (part 1) | Will the real James please stand up?
  2. An update on the Hilarys | thecardigancontinuum

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