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Electronics Records Archives
September 10, 2005 8:05 PM   Subscribe

The National Archives recently announced a new phase in the ongoing project called the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) whose vision is to catalog and make available online electronic documentation produced by the Federal government (E-mails, Word Documents, etc), which otherwise could disappear entirely or at least be very difficult to locate. Funded with over 300 million and set to debut in 2007 and be complete by 2011 it is a project of unusual scope and complexities but promises to make government more transparent to researches and the general public.
posted by stbalbach (5 comments total)

 
Either that, or they can delete any trace of something they don't want you to see.

You can't tell me that this is something that the current administration is for, are you?

Their default reqisite for disclosure of anything has been court order.
posted by Balisong at 8:25 PM on September 10, 2005


Brought to you by Lockheed Martin known specialists in... um... well you know they're good at.... and there aren't any other companies that can do what they do in the area of... um ...

shit.
posted by jessamyn at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2005


Yes, Bush is evil and he hides things.

Regardless of who the president is, the issue of preservation of electronic records is vitally important. From everything to the CD's we have all been ripping and burning (which will probably start to deteriorate in 5 to 10 years if they haven't already) to current business people trying to access records from just a few years ago and of course tomorrow's historians.

I have things I wrote back in the 1980's that are on 5" floppies, written with Writing Assistant. Glad they're not anything important.

Thanks for the post stbalbach, I've been rolling around a similar one in my head for awhile. Some more reading here. Some stuff about NARA's project a few years ago with the San Diego Supercomputer people here.

Also, Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs - A Guide for Librarians and Archivists [PDF],

I'm kind of a dead tree guy myself.
posted by marxchivist at 8:54 PM on September 10, 2005


You can't tell me that this is something that the current administration is for, are you?

The National Archives is an independent agency, not part of the Executive Branch. The Archivist is appointed by the President and serves at his pleasure, but must meet professional qualifications (hey, there's a concept) and reports to Congress. (The original role was keeping the records of Congress.) In the case of the ERA, interestingly, this was an initiative of the Archives themselves based on a study recommendation (a no-brainer, true, but one that had been on the table since the 1980s).

Electronic records, one will recall, figured prominently in the Iran-contra investigation, as well as certain Clinton administration incidents.

I would really like to know the technical approaches used by their contractor, who announced in 2001 that they would

develop a system that preserves any kind of electronic record, free it from the format in which it was created, retain it indefinitely, and enable requesters to read it on computer systems now and in the future. Since the system promises to be scalable, it could be useful also for smaller archives, including those of state and local governments and private institutions.

I'm thinking printouts.
posted by dhartung at 9:52 PM on September 10, 2005


Not to mention that Bush has said he doesn't use e-mail. He closed down all his old personal e-mail accounts specifically because there is virtually no delineation between public and private correspondence in the White House.
posted by calwatch at 12:34 AM on September 11, 2005


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