Friday, April 29, 2011
Just moments ago I attended a telework training session that was informative and well presented. I am encouraged by the energy behind the various telework initiatives and the recently passed Telework Law (H.R. 1722 The Telework Enhancement Act signed by President Obama in December 2010). As a strong advocate for telework I feel that it is the workforce for such a time as we are living in today, and in subsequent days many of the concerns and culture changes which may be causing some resistance to telework will be effectively addressed and productivity will not be affected but rather enhanced by the teleworker.
My purpose in writing this email is to request that in addition to telework mandatory training we also consider the need for mandatory records management training. Records management is everyone’s responsibility and as the workforce of today and workforce of the future becomes more and more mobile it is of great importance that we realize the importance placed upon records management as we interact with the agency records both within and outside the normal work place. The management of Agency records must be stressed along with other productive work related practices and I would encourage you to consider the following important essentials and benefits related to records management:
Importance of Records Management:
• Protects the legal, financial, and other rights of the government and its citizens
• Ensures continuity and consistency in carrying out business processes
• Records Agency progress, achievements and other metrics which provide accurate metrics for justification of various Agency mission and objectives
• Provides information required by Congress and other officials
• Documents Agency organization, structure and essential vital records
• Enables Agency to be compliant with required regulations
Risks imposed when Records Management is not practiced effectively
• Potential loss of Agency records
• Accidental deletion of electronic records
• Inability to locate essential records
• Failure to meet eDiscovery (the process of locating electronic documents when required for litigation) requirements
• Failure to meet Paperwork Elimination and Space Elimination Acts
• Failure to meet legal requirements
• Failure to exercise prudent business practices
• Inability to accurately and clearly demonstrate agency accomplishments
Telework and the importance of Records Management
• If teleworkers are not briefed in records management there is the possibility that electronic records would not be managed properly
• A failure to manage electronic records may result in accidental deletion, inappropriate exposure, accidental modification or tampering with Agency records
• The teleworker should be aware of the fact that records are being produced on various media and electronic devices and not just the pc or laptop, such as:
• The cell phone
• The smart phone
• The iPod, The iPad, etc
• Electronic Records may also be created and managed within various Web 2.0 apps such as:
• Wiki’s, Blogs, Facebook’s, You Tubes, Google Apps, Emails, etc.
• The cloud also poses very unique challenges to records management and the teleworker, for which the teleworker should be informed and trained
I have listed some considerations for the inclusion of a mandatory records management training session. This list is not exhaustive but I appreciate your feedback and look forward to your response.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
With the establishment of the Internet as a giant storage place, metaphorically referred to as The Cloud, local backups, cross-device syncing, and local data storage is becoming more and more redundant. In fact, the average user already stores a bulk of personal data online. Soon, even the data hoarders may find sufficient space in the digital cloud to say goodbye to terabyte-sized hard drives and complicated backup and sync procedures.
Are you ready to step into The Cloud? In this article I will show you how you can become largely independent of local data storage and store your data in the cloud. I will provide an overview of how the Internet can help you sync information across different software, platforms and devices to have your data accessible anytime, anywhere by you or by anyone you choose.
Cloud Messaging: Email
Whether you maintain a webmail account like Yahoo, Hotmail, or GMail or send and receive email via a desktop client, your messages inevitably pass through The Cloud and are stored on Internet servers, at least temporarily. The advantage of a webmail account that permanently stores your mails online, is that you cannot lose important messages and data. Some people even scan important documents and mail them to their own webmail account in order to have permanent access to them. It’s a thought worth tossing around.
Consider Google Mail for a permanent webmail account. Apart from over 7GB of free storage, it offers incredible features that will let you experience email in a whole new light.
MakeUseOf has covered GMail extensively. Here is a small selection:
- The Ultimate Guide To Gmail [PDF]
- How To Search Emails In Gmail Efficiently
- How to Turn Your Gmail into Awesome Storage Tool
- How To Quickly Find Messages With Attachments In Gmail
- 3 Things Pro Gmail Users Have Set Up In Their Accounts
- 4 Simple Steps To Achieving & Maintaining Inbox Zero In Gmail
- 3 Great Examples of Using Gmail Filters for Productivity
Online File Storage: Dropbox
At first sight, Dropbox is a harmless little folder that sits on your desktop and holds your files. What hides behind it however, is a nifty little sync tool that works in the background and never hassles you. Not only are files in your Dropbox automatically encrypted and synced to your online Dropbox account, you also have access to 30 days of undo history, you can share Dropbox subfolders with your friends, access your files online, or sync them to as many devices as you like. 2GB of this cloud storage madness is totally free.
Care to learn more about Dropbox? Check out these articles:
- The First Unofficial Guide To Dropbox
- 3 Unique & Creative Uses For Dropbox Accounts
- How To Easily Synchronize Folders Outside Dropbox Using Symlinks
Brain Online: Evernote
Evernote is something like your online pinboard or fridge for useful bits and pieces of information, some even call it their external brain. Whether it’s business cards, recipes, ideas, pictures, or invitations, on Evernote you can store any piece of information you want to remember. Evernote will index text, even from scanned documents or pictures and whenever you need the information, you can easily search and access your data collection wherever you are.
Let us get you started on Evernote:
- 7 Ways To Make Use Of Evernote
- 6 Ways To Add Your Information To Evernote
- Evernote – The Killer App For The Android Mobile Phone
Passwords Anywhere: LastPass
What is the greatest annoyance when you quickly want to check your email on a friend’s computer or in an Internet café? After years of letting your browser store your password, you actually forget it! The same fate awaits those who reinstall their computer or set up a new device.
LastPass is a long term solution because it encrypts and stores your passwords online. It also offers extensions for all major browsers and mobile devices, allowing you to sync passwords across multiple browsers and operating systems and all your gadgets. In addition, LastPass provides a secure password generator, which creates nearly uncrackable passwords.
Bookmarks Sync: Xmarks
When we talk about The Cloud, we’re automatically talking about browsers and bookmarks. Browsers are our digital window into The Net and being the most important tool for accessing the Internet, many people are almost emotionally attached to their browser. While many browsers now offer syncing of personal data, what they all lack is cross-browser-syncing of bookmarks. What good are your bookmarks if you cannot access them anywhere?
Note that Xmarks will no longer sync passwords. The company has acquired LastPass and is thus deprecating the password sync feature in Xmarks.
Cloud Entertainment: Amazon Cloud Drive & Player
Right now, Amazon Cloud Drive is nothing but yet another online storage space. However, with the introduction of its Cloud Player, it provides a glimpse into the future of digital entertainment. Soon, we will store our media files locally, they will all be located in the cloud and accessible through apps on our digital devices. You can text the future now by using the 5GB free space on Amazon Cloud Drive for your music (US only).
Do you now see how laptops in the future will be based on a browser rather than an operating system? If you’re all ears about The Cloud now, you might like these articles:
- How Does Cloud Computing Work?
- Build Yourself A Virtual Cloud To Fall Back On
- Do You Live In The Cloud? [MakeUseOf Poll]
Needless to say, an article like this can only scratch the surface and show the biggest and best cloud tools to store data in the cloud. There are many, many more and I’m sure you know one or the other. So are you floating freely in The Cloud already or is something holding you back? Please share your opinions in the comments!
Image credits: Lightspring
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More articles about: Amazon, backup, bookmarks, cloud, data, dropbox, evernote, Gmail, online storage, password, synchronize
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Indian Social Media Agencies in Early 2008
Last year, I had created the first list of social media agencies in India, which included –
- Digital Advertising Agencies like Webchutney, Quasar Media/ Quasar Talk and Phonethics offering social media marketing services with a focus on virals, social network apps, social media campaigns etc.
- Public Relations Practitioners like Rajesh Lalwani’s Blogworks offering social media services with a focus on online reputation monitoring and social media outreach etc.
Indian Social Media Agencies in Mid 2009
A year later, I can see at least six type of companies offering social media services in India –
1. Independent Social Media Agencies offer social media monitoring, social media outreach, and community manager services. Blogworks and WATConsult are the most visible example, but other examples include Windchimes, Social Wavelength, Bloggers’ Mind, Sulmoz, Zapylacz, Mercury Communication, Ripple Links and Electrosocial.
2. Advertising Agencies Offering Social Media Services run social media campaigns, using viral videos and Facebook/ OpenSocial applications, to supplement display and search advertising campaigns, typically to promote brand microsites. Webchutney/ Drizzlin, Quasar Media/ Quasar Talk, Pinstorm, BCWebwise, Interactive Avenues, Ignitee, Media2Win, and Phonethics are good examples of this category. Other examples include Infovedics, Blueliner, ID8Labs, New Media Guru, Foxymoron, Smursh, iConcept, Experience Commerce, D’zine Garage and iStrat. Apart from these digital advertising agencies, almost all traditional advertising agencies typically create micro-sites or run ads on social networking websites, as part of an integrated advertising campaign.
3. Public Relations Agencies Offering Social Media Services typically offer online reputation management and word of mouth marketing services, to complement their offline offerings. Leaders 20:20 Media, Fleishman Hillard, Genesis Burson-Marsteller (via Puretech Internet), Hanmer MSL, Ogilvy PR, Text100 and Weber Shandwick and even smaller players like Renaissance PR now offer well-developed social media offerings. I am surprised that Edelman isn’t promoting its social media services in India yet.
4. Social Media Research and Analytics Companies focus on monitoring social media conversations using human and machine analysis. These companies include Informm, LogicBowl, Fractal Analytics, Empower Research and Germinait. I don’t think that Nielsen Buzzmetrics, TNS Cymfony or JD Power Web Intelligence are offering their social media analytics services in India yet.
5. Bloggers-Turned-Consultants typically offer corporate blogging and social media consulting services, and conduct social media workshops. Kiruba Shankar and Dina Mehta are the most prominent examples in this category, but other include Moksh Juneja and Vijay Rayapati.
6. Search Engine Optimization Companies are beginning to offer social media optimization services. Examples of such companies include Search Engine Factors, Development India, Empowered SEO, Innovate, iSMO, BrainPulse, IT Chimes, BrainWork, WildNet Technologies, Mosaic ITES Services, SEO Outsourcing India, Kneoteric, Semaphore, Magnon Solutions and dozens of others, each indistinguishable from the others.
I said last year that “it seems that, by the end of 2008, we’ll have 25-30 serious social media players in the Indian market.” Like a lot of my social media predictions, this one has also come true, even if we exclude the SEO/ SEM/ SMM companies.
A Call for Collaboration
I think that this space will continue to attract both new startups and established advertising and public relations companies. By the end of 2009, I expect the number of categories to go up from 6 to 8-10 and the number of players to go up from 35 to 50-60.
Some of my friends who run these agencies are worried that the social media space in India has already become too cluttered. As the co-founder of a new specialized social media company, I see this frantic activity as an opportunity.
On one hand, most traditional advertising and public relations agencies won’t be able to build serious competencies in the social media space, unless they start independent social media agencies. The people in these companies who understand social media will be tempted to strike out on their own and start specialized social media agencies.
On the other hand, many specialized social media agencies won’t survive the year. Most companies that survive won’t be able to scale beyond the small founding team working out of a home office. Some of us, hopefully, will both survive, and scale, and profitably.
The entrepreneurial activity in this space is extremely encouraging because the same people who will fail at running their small companies will build strong personal brands in the process and succeed at senior roles at the companies that emerge as leaders in this space.
So, there’s value in our seeing each other as potential collaborators, instead of competitors, and working together to evangelize social media to Indian brands. The market opportunity here is huge and we haven’t even scraped the surface yet.
Sometimes it just amazes me how much good information is out there about document, records, and content -- and how often we reinvent our arguments over and over and over again.
So for all you solution providers out there, and for all you end users out there who struggle to explain some aspect of ECM or BPM or ERM to your peers, here are a ton of great presentations.
Feel free to send the links around. Embed the presentations in your blog. Impress your friends and relatives. Show them to your significant other on a date. OK, maybe not that.
Some are Powerpoint presentations. Some are full videos.
Check them out. And then send them around to anyone you think might be interested.
Also, if you are from an association or organization interested in learning more about these issues and how they affect your members, we can help! We're happy to talk about coming for a keynote on these or other topics...
Thursday, April 21, 2011
And certainly when my colleague, Doug Belshaw, pointed me in the direction of this post regarding Facebook’s archiving policy it became clear that I’m not the only one thinking about the (unintended?) consequences for all parties of where this might lead us.
Its tempting to see things only from our (by that I mean the archival community) side of the fence – to lament the inevitable decline in our future professional role that the handing over of content to commercial external service providers for its long term preservation will entail and to worry about what it may mean for the archives (and their users) of the future.
But maybe we should also pause to reflect on what it may mean for these service providers themselves and whether they actually have as much concern about the implications of this new found responsibility on their side as we do on ours.
For as I concluded my paper in Geneva:
'Perhaps we should actually stop to ask Google and their peers whether they are indeed aware of the fact that the future of digital preservation lies in their hands and the responsibilities which comes with it and whether this is a role they are happy to fulfil. For perhaps just as we are in danger of sleepwalking our way into a situation where we have let this responsibility slip through our fingers, so they might be equally guilty of unwittingly finding it has landed in theirs.
If so, might this provide the opportunity for dialogue between the archival professions and cloud based service providers and in doing so, the opportunity for us to influence (and perhaps even still directly manage) the preservation of digital archives long into the future'.
To again quote from the conclusion of my paper:
'Maybe the interconnection of content creation and use and its long term preservation need not be as indivisible within the cloud as it might first appear. Yes Google’s appetite for content might appear insatiable, but that does not necessarily mean that they wish to hold it all themselves – after all, their core business of search does not require them to hold themselves every web page they index, merely to have the means to crawl it and to return the results to the user. Might we be able to persuade them that the same logic should also apply to the contents of Google Apps, Blogger, YouTube and the like? If so, might the door be open for us, the archival community through the publicly funded purse to create and maintain our own meta-repository within which online content can be transferred, or just copied, for controlled, managed long term storage whilst continuing to provide access to it to the services and companies from which it originated?
That way they get to continue to accrue the benefit of allowing their users to access and manipulate digital content in ways which benefit their bottom line, the user continues to enjoy the services they have grown accustomed to and the archival community can sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that whilst service providers are free to do what they want with live content, its long term preservation and safety continues to lie in our own experienced and trusted hands'.
I wonder if such dialogue is already occurring between Google, Facebook et al and the likes of NARA, NAA and TNA. Lets hope so…
So begins the conclusion of the paper written by myself and Jay Vidyarthi and published in the latest volume of the Records Management Journal. (Vol 20, No 3)
The paper discusses the way in which records management has focused almost exclusively and to the exclusion of virtually all other considerations on the needs of ‘the organisation’ often to the detriment of the users we are so reliant upon. Records management is a discipline which strives for standardisation, consistency and uniformity; for example in the form of functional classification schemes attempting to map activities across the entire organisation with a view to constructing a ‘corporate file plan’ or shared metadata schemas. This drive to standardisation isn’t just evident within organisations, but across them – be it in the guise of ISO 15489 or any of the specification standards for an EDRMS – all of which have at their heart the desired goal of uniformity of approach.
Read any section of 15489 and it’s abundantly clear who the main beneficiary of records management is intended to be – and its not the user. Virtually every section defines its objectives in terms of the benefits it will provide to ‘the organization’ with the user(s) getting barely a mention. Now none of this may strike the user as particularly surprising, nor in any way negative. After all, records management has long strived to be acknowledged as a ‘corporate function’ alongside HR, finance etc and clearly many of the drivers for it (accountability, governance, regulation etc) tend to apply at the organisational, rather than the individual level.
None of this is intended to criticise, but to shed some light on why it is that records management often struggles to satisfy the requirements of the individual users it relies on for success and why it could be argued that it has given up even trying. At its most extreme this disparity between the design of many records management systems and the needs of the individual user is most succinctly summed up in a quote made by one EDRMS user to me once that ‘making me use an EDRMS is like asking a plasterer to use a hammer’!
This clearly puts records management and the technology we rely on to implement it (whatever that technology may be) in something of a quandary. Is it really possible for it to successfully serve two equally demanding masters? Can we really hope to find ways of meeting the myriad, highly specific, highly personal demands of our user community in a way which not only pleases each individual user but also in a way which continues to meet the obligations and interests of the organisation as a whole?
Carry on as we are and I fear the answer will continue to be ‘no’; but open our eyes and ears to some radical new perspectives and it could yet be a ‘yes’. Human-Computer Interaction, or HCI is a combination of computer science, cognitive psychology, sociology, information science and design which might just represent the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’. A blog post doesn’t provide the space to explore the detail – that’ what Jay and I start to do in the RMJ paper. Here it suffices to describe it as a structured approach which puts the users first to ensure that they can interact with the system in ways which meet their needs whilst also continuing to meet the needs of the organisation. By shining a light on the behaviour, needs, opinions, tendencies and motivations of end-users it’s the first step towards achieving truly effective records management systems. After all, give somebody a tool that patently saves them time, energy and frustration and they would be foolish not to embrace it; but so too we must acknowledge that the reverse is true and that to try to make somebody use a tool that promises to only help someone (or something) else but at their own personal expense and surely we must concede that they would be a fool to use it.
The implications of such a shift in emphasis are profound, for records management as traditionally conceived is a house built from the top down determined by the needs of the organisation, and not one built from the bottom up based on the needs of its users. But it also offers some tantalising prospects: not just RM systems that users actively want to engage with, but also the possibility that we could start to use this new found knowledge of user behaviour to design and create records management systems that can actually manage records ‘automatically’ (at least in part) based on this behaviour – in a way similar to that used by Amazon et al to organise their content to aid the user experience. Desirable? Definitely. Possible? Who knows, but what this space…
Sunday, April 17, 2011
One of the most common needs we have is migrating AV materials from a fixed DVD formats into a ‘preservable’ format (ripping). It seems that relatively few of our donors deposit .avi or other source files, but like to give us DVD’s.
The digital curation literature seems to have relatively little written on this topic, as it does for many acquisition-related issues.
Like Jason Fowler, we have had a great deal of success using Handbrake, and the recent version (0.9.5) seems to be the best yet. This is software that just works and requires little instructions. In fact, here is the entire ‘procedure manual’ that Angela Jordan and I wrote:
Ripping DVD’s Using Handbrake
- Open Handbrake. Load DVD into DVD-R/W drive.
- Under “Source,” select the appropriate drive.
- Select the Destination by clicking “Browse” and entering the end file location. Put it on your desktop for copying to storage later
- Under “Video” set Container to MP4 file, Video Codec to “H.264”, Framerate to “Same as Source,” and Constant Quality to “RF:20″ for a standard DVD and to “RF:21″ for a BluRay disk.
- Under Audio Set Codec to “AAC (Core Audio),” Sample Rate to “Auto,” and Bitrate to “128.”
- Select Start.
- If more than one file needs copied from the same DVD, under the Source Title arrow, select the next file and select the “Add to Queue” tab. Continue this process until all files are selected and in the queue.
- When the entire queue has been converted, Handbrake will let you know.
- Verify that the files were converted correctly by viewing them in VLC.
- If you notice any problems, consult with professional staff and adjust advanced settings. Try to rip the DVD again.
- Copy the files to the e-records repository, using the separate instructions.
All of the settings above represent the default, and based on the videos that we have converted, have resulted in discernible video and audio quality as high as that in the original source file.
- Installation/Configuration/Supported Platforms: Has a standard installer for Windows, Linux, and MAC. Installed easily and w/out issues. 20/20
- Functionality/Reliability: In version 0.9.5, there were no problems in running the capture. It did take a bit of time, depending on the power of the computer used, but the quality of the caputre seemed to be visually the same as the original source. 20/20
- Usability: Very user friendly interface. There are a few parameters to adjust, so it is not overwhelming to a novice, and we left all the default settings as is, and did a capture at same quality as original source, using industry standard mp4 container. H.264 video codec and AAC audio codece. 10/10
- Scalability: There is a command line interface, so you can use it to process multiple source video files not on DVD. 10/10
- Documentation: The manual is easy to understand and follow, but not every option is explained. The section on video settings is useful, since it tells you what to do to extract same quality as source, with reasonable file size and warns that amping up the settings w/out reason will not improve quality, only file size. 10/10
- Interoperability/Metadata support: It would be nice if there an export setting option so preservation metadata could be captured. 7/10
- Flexiblity/Customizability: See usability. 10/10
- License/Support/Sustainability/Community: GPL’d. The developers are active. Although their roadmap does not include target release dates, each release is about a year apart and they recently set up a git hub. Also has a very active forum, since lots of people like ripping DVD’s 10/10
Final Score: 97/100
Bottom Line: Great software for an archivist. It is incredibly user friendly, easy to use, and provides output that is of high quality. If you need to rip DVD’s, this is the tool for you (warning, be sure not to circumvent any DRM restrictions, unless you want to break the Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
Saturday, April 16, 2011
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers estimate that the amount of business-related information processed by the world's computer servers has reached 9.57 zettabytes per year. 'Most of this information is incredibly transient: it is created, used, and discarded in a few seconds without ever being seen by a person,' says UCSD professor Roger Bohn, who collaborated with James E. Short and Chaitanya K. Baru on the research. The 9.57-zettabyte estimate is based on guidance from experts, industry data, and their own judgment. 'Since our capacity assumptions, methodology, and calculations are complex, we have prepared a separate technical paper as background to explain our methodology and provide sample calculations,' Short says. The researchers relied on server performance per dollar invested as a way to measure different server types and sizes. 'While midrange servers doubled their Web processing and business application workloads every two years, they doubled their performance per dollar every 1.5 years,' Bohn says. The estimated workload of the world's servers could be an underestimate due to the fact that server-industry sales reports do not include servers built from component parts by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others, the researchers note. 'In the future, data archiving and preservation will require as much enthusiasm in research and industry settings as we have provided to data generation and data processing,' Baru says.
From 'Business Information Consumption: 9,570,000,000,000,000,000,000 Bytes Per Year'
UCSD News (CA) (04/06/11) Rex Graham
View Full Article"
Friday, April 15, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
An update from Michael Carlson, ERA Adoption Coordinator
NARA has posted a new home page with content on what federal agency users need to do to get started using NARA’s Electronic Records Archives (ERA).
The 30 Departments and Agencies that constitute the Chief Information Officers’ Council will start using ERA during their assigned months starting in March 2011 and ending in November 2011. You may view the schedule here. The rest of the government signed up for start months that ranged from July 2011 until September 2012. If you are a records officer and have not yet signed up for a start month, just contact email@example.com.
Otherwise, the page contains a link to ERA Training. Getting Started With ERA gives you a four-step sign up process for your staff. A “quick link” to the User Account Request form gets your staff quickly signed up for ERA.
The links above should give you essential information about getting started with ERA. We will be adding content regularly over the coming weeks. We have also been working quite intensively with our help desk staff. Between the help desk and your appraisal and accessioning archivists and me, of course, you should be well supported.
Thanks so much for your support and commitment to ERA!
We have heard from OPM that they are proposing a new occupational series to encompass information management positions in the Federal government. This came from an memo they have sent to Human Resources Officers in the government. The memo requests feedback to OPM on this topic. Because of our obvious interest in the topic, we will be commenting to OPM and hopefully playing a leading role in the development of this occupational series. However, we also want to encourage the Federal records officers community to share their views, either with us (feel free to leave a comment below) or by commenting directly to OPM.
Here is basically what OPM said about their effort:
The Office of Personnel Management is proposing to establish a new occupational series encompassing information management functions, including those related to FOIA. This proposal is motivated by the Administration’s commitment to transparency. In order to promote greater transparency throughout government, the Administration has identified information management as a high-priority occupation. OPM believes that establishing a new information management occupational series that brings together Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act, and Records Management positions would support recruitment, selection, and development of this critical workforce; elevate the importance of these functions within each agency; and advance professionalization of the field.
To begin this initiative and gain a full understanding of the range of work performed in this area, OPM requires your assistance. We request that you respond to the following questions about the proposed occupation:
- Is it appropriate to merge Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and Records Management duties and responsibilities into one series? If not, please explain.
- Are there additional, related functions that should also be covered by this occupational series? If so, please elaborate.
Please provide the requested information along with an agency point of contact to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15, 2011.
First of all, let’s go back to what was said in our internal report that recommended the changes to our organizational structure, A Charter For Change: Charting the Course. You can access the report as .pdf here. During the writing of that report, we identified six transformational outcomes as the guiding force in developing our new organizational structure. They are:
- One NARA: An agency with unified and coordinated services delivered to customers efficiently and effectively.
- A Customer-focused Organization: An agency with structures and processes so staff can more effectively meet customer needs.
- Out in Front: An agency that embraces the primacy of electronic information in all its work and positions itself as a leader and innovator in this area.
- An Agency of Leaders: An agency that fosters a culture of leadership, not just as a position, but how each individual works proactively.
- A Great Place to Work: An agency that trusts, empowers, and listens to all staff.
- An Open NARA: An agency that opens organizational boundaries to learn from others, both inside and outside of NARA.
The Charter for Change is a bold way of positioning us to face the future. Simply, the ways we traditionally completed our work evolved in the 20th century when the format of most, if not all Federal records, was paper. In order for us to fulfill our mission in the 21st century, we need to reexamine our theories and practices to take advantage of the tools available. We need to develop the skill sets that will move us beyond our current capabilities, as we continue our basic job of preserving and making available the records of the Government.
The new Executive for Agency Services represents a unified approach to serving all of our customers, allowing agencies to strengthen communications with us across a broad range of issues. Our new Chief Records Officer will take a fresh look at issues like scheduling, sorting and storing the Federal government’s burgeoning production of electronic and physical records. Those appointments have been announced.
William J. (Jay) Bosanko serves as the Executive for Agency Services leading NARA’s efforts to service the records management needs of Federal agencies, and representing the public’s interest in the accountability and transparency of these records. Previously, Mr. Bosanko served as the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office.
Paul Wester serves as the first Chief Records Officer (CRO), leading and overseeing records management throughout the Federal government. His new position will focus on managing the vast array of Federal electronic records and evaluating the effectiveness of Federal records management policies and programs. The CRO will report to the Executive for Agency Services. As most of you know, Paul previously served as the Director of the Modern Records Program.
These are certainly exciting times. We will continue to use this blog to communicate updates about the ongoing work of the Transformation. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and we will respond.
This is an update on behalf of our colleagues at NAGARA - The National Association of Government Archivists and Records Administrators.
The detailed, on-site program for the 2011 Electronic Records Forum, a unique conference focusing on current issues in Electronic Records Management, which will be held April 7 - 8, in Austin, TX is now available. This year’s Forum will again meet at the Marriott Courtyard/Residence Inn - Downtown/Convention Center on 4th Street in Austin. The hotel’s special conference rates have been extended through today, March 25th.
This year’s program will include the following presentations:
- Keynote: Why E-Records Are So Challenging (Carol Brock, IQ Group)
- Responding to a Preservation Order: Understanding the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Their Records Management Implications (Jason Velasco, KPMG; the Hon. Andrew W. Austin, US Magistrate Judge, Western District of Texas)
- Managing Content Generated by Social Media Tools as Records (Jesse Wilkins, AIIM)
- Future Records Managers Skill Sets (Pat Galloway, University of Texas at Austin; Richard Pearce-Moses, Clayton State University)
- A Review of State Government Digital Preservation (Glen McAninch, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives; Jerry Handfield, Washington State Archives; Robert Horton, Minnesota Historical Society; Pete Watters, Arizona State Library and Archives)
- Records Management Program Metrics/Diagnostics (Stephanie Fawcett, National Archives and Records Administration-Northeast Region)
- The Transformation of NARA and the National Records Management Program (Paul Wester, National Archives and Records Administration-Modern Records Program)
- DOD 5015.2 Version 3 Review: Electronic Record Keeping System Certification (Jana Gallatin, Defense Technical Information Center)
For program registration, or hotel reservation information, please visit NAGARA’s website.
This program is sponsored by NAGARA, and co-sponsored by the NARA Southwest Region, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, University of Texas at Austin School of Information, and the Society of Southwest Archivists.
The conference is expected to attract 150+ federal, state, local, and tribal records managers, archivists and information specialists as well as a number of attendees from the private sector and academia.The one-and-a-half day event will include a continental breakfast (both days), a plated lunch on April 7, and an evening social/networking session with light food servings for attendees and vendors.
This morning, an event is being held at the National Archives in Washington, DC to announce the release of an American Council for Technology (ACT) Industry Action Advisory Council (IAC) report on Best Practices Study of Social Media Retention Policies (.pdf link). The report was produced by the IAC Collaboration and Transformation Shared Interest Group. Additional information about that group and information can be found on the ACT-IAC Website.
NARA cosponsored this work along with the Government Advisory Panel of the IAC. The purpose of the study was:
to build a discussion around the use of Web 2.0 Collaborative Technologies, also known as Social Media, to help government and its citizens connect more closely, collaboratively, and openly. The study involved interviews at 10 agencies regarding records management processes addressing the use of social media. The ACT-IAC Collaboration and Transformation Shared Interest Group has sought to explore and capture government best practices of retention policies for Social Media used to support agency missions.
The report calls on NARA to develop guidance on which social media content would be records. This goes beyond our traditional role in working with Federal agencies. Yes, we helps agencies comply with records management laws and regulations by developing guidance. However, given the wide disparities and unique circumstances among individual Federal agencies, our guidance needs to be applicable to all agencies and delineate what agencies must do to comply with records requirements. Broadly applicable guidance allows agencies the flexibility to determine how best to implement specific recordkeeping requirements given their unique missions, priorities, and budgets. One of these requirements is that agencies have the responsibility to identify the records needed to carry out their mission.
We think this point warrants further discussion, as it is important to clarify any misconception that we are not trying to be as helpful as is possible to agencies in identifying their Web 2.0 or social media records. Two aspects of the statutory definition of a Federal record ideally require agency determination: (1) made or received by an agency in the course of conducting government business, and (2) preserved or appropriate for preservation as evidence of agency operations and decision-making. Answers to these record status questions are best made by agencies, not by NARA.
Last fall, we issued NARA Bulletin 2011-02 providing guidance on managing Federal records produced when agencies use Web 2.0/social media platforms and a Report on Federal Web 2.0 Use and Value (.pdf link). Since the issuance of that Bulletin and the report, we have continued to work with Federal records managers, members of the Federal web manager community, and our other stakeholders to continue to learn about agency use of social media tools and how they are adapting our guidance. This new report is another that we will review in our ongoing process to improve our guidance.
We have long recognized that content Federal agencies create and place on their websites can be considered Federal records and managed as such. In January of 2005, we issued comprehensive guidance to Federal agencies on managing their Web records. This guidance discussed the ways agencies use web sites, the basic statutory requirements that govern web sites, especially the Federal Records Act, and the types of records agencies typically accumulate in connection with their web sites. Also included were the steps an agency must take to ensure trustworthy web records and the types of records that should be covered in web schedules, how these schedules might be structured, and the factors an agency should consider in determining how long records should be retained.
After the promulgation of this guidance, it became clear to us that the Web was evolving from a static repository of documents to environments that facilitated collaboration across geographic and institutional boundaries. An additional piece of guidance, Implications of Recent Web Technologies for NARA Web Guidance was issued in 2006 to provide more information to Federal agencies about these emerging technologies and their implications for agency records management. Since then, we have continued to work with Federal agencies and technical contacts in a variety of informal capacities to better understand their use of the web and identify the records management concerns. Through these efforts and contacts, we have a better understanding of the dynamic nature of Web 2.0 and the issues that confront individual Federal agencies.
The following is from David Weinberg, the Director of NARA’s Federal Records Center Program.
I would like to communicate with Federal Records Centers Program (FRCP) customers regarding the possible shutdown of the Federal Government after April 8, 2011, and the impact such a shutdown might have on the services the FRCP provides to agency customers.
Unlike many Federal entities, the FRCP is funded by a revolving fund, which is a permanent appropriation that is not subject to fiscal year limitations. This means that in the event of a funding hiatus resulting in a shutdown, the FRCP, within certain limitations, is capable of continuing its operations.
We have prepared this FAQ for customers to provide information on FRCP operations in the event of a government shutdown. If you have questions, please contact your local FRC director (http://www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html).
Will the Federal Records Centers be open at full capacity if the Federal Government shuts down after April 8, 2011?
The Federal Records Centers will be open at full capacity on Monday, April 11. FRCP staff will process all work that is in the queue as of close of business on the day before the shutdown.
After the first few days, we will assess on a daily basis at what level the system should remain open. If there is not enough work to sustain a particular records center, that records center will close for regular business and will likely remain closed for the duration of the government shutdown. (All FRCs will still process emergency requests-please see section on “emergency requests,” below.)
How will Federal Records Centers be secured during a shutdown?
I would like to emphasize that throughout any possible shutdown, the FRCP will continue to store and safeguard all Federal agency records in its custody. All current security procedures will remain in force during a shutdown.
How do I get an emergency request serviced?
The FRCP will provide emergency services for those requests that any agency (regardless of its operating status) believes involve the protection of human life or property. If you have an emergency request, you may directly contact the Director of the FRC (http://www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html) that processes your records. If your local center is closed, you can contact NARA security at 1-87-SOS- NARA1 (1-877-676-2721) 24 hours a day, and they will refer you to the FRCP official to fulfill emergency requests.
How will the FRCP communicate with customers during a government shutdown?
Since NARA web program staff will be furloughed, NARA websites will not be updated during a shutdown. To communicate urgent messages (such as closure of individual FRCs) to customers during a shutdown, the FRCP will send an e-mail message through the FRC Communications list. Since we realize that during a shutdown, customers may have limited access to their agency e-mail accounts, we will also post urgent messages to the FRC Twitter Feed (http://www.twitter.com/NARAFRC), the FRC Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/NARAFRC), and here.
–You can access the Twitter feed in a number of ways:
- If you have a Twitter account, log into your account, go to http://twitter.com/NARAFRC, click “follow,” and updates from the Federal Records Centers will automatically appear in your Twitter feed.
- If you do not have a Twitter account, you can simply visit http://twitter.com/NARAFRC to read updates.
- We have also installed a widget on the FRCP main page (http://www.archives.gov/frc) that will stream the information from the FRC Twitter feed.
–To access the Facebook page, visit http://www.facebook.com/NARAFRC. If you have a Facebook account, you can log in to your account and “like” the FRC page, and updates to the page will appear in your Facebook feed.
–You can also subscribe to email updates from our Records Express by following the links on the right under “Subscribe”
Whom should I call if I have questions?
If you have questions, please contact your local FRC director (http://www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html).
Saturday, April 9, 2011
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Friday, April 1, 2011
Despite Amazon being most well known for their retail services, they actually also offer a host of web services for developers and home users that take advantage of Amazon’s experience and scalability with massive amounts of data warehousing. One of those services is called S3, which stands for “Simple Storage Service“.
Here are 3 ways in which you can make use of Amazon S3 web services today.
Introduction & Amazon S3 Costs
S3 operates on a basis of paying only for what you use, with separate fees for storage, data transfer and data requests. Ignoring data request fees because the cost is minimal, the fees break down as follows:
5GB free, then $0.15/GB per month (100GB = $15)
Data Transfer (Upload)
Data Transfer (Download)
As an example then – if you used it to store 100GB of data – it would cost you $10 to upload it all, $15 per month to store it, and a further $15 when you decided to download it all again.
So what can you do with all that cloud storage?
Backup Your Computer Files
The most obvious use is for cloud-backup of your important files. While I don’t suggest you spend the next 6 months uploading your entire 4TB video collection to S3, they do claim to achieve 99.999999999% file durability, which means anything you upload will most certainly not get destroyed. For critical files you couldn’t stand to lose, it is the most cost effective and secure way of ensuring you have a solid backup.
To make the backup process simple, you’ll need some software to automate the process. Arq is the best option, but the price tag of $30 may be off-putting for some. However it does offer some fantastic features like being able to set a monthly backup budget. JungleDisk is a pay-monthly reseller ($3/month) that provides similar software. On the free side, S3BackupSystem is a capable utility for Windows.
Check out this site for 35+ more S3 backup and sync tools.
If you want to back up large amounts of data (more than 40GB), Mozy may be a more cost effective solution with their unlimited plans. However many users say that the speed is much slower than Amazon.
Backup Your Online Life
With the recent news of the possible demise of the Delicious bookmarking service, many of us realised that social feeds and online personas are something we might want to back up – but how do you back up your data when it’s stored in an online service? The answer is with Backupify and S3. Backupify, which offers a free 2GB/5 account plan, takes the data out of various social networks and online services, and stores it on an S3 account. If the thought of losing your Twitter feed makes you wince, it might be worth a look.
Store Large Downloads For Your Site
If you have large files that users can download from a website, like a podcast or videos, it works out cheaper to host them on Amazon s3 which means less stress on your server. In case you didn’t know, all of our fantastic free MakeUseOf guides are hosted on S3.
The Amazon s3 WordPress Plugin makes it super-easy to upload the files and make links from within the standard WordPress editor.
Host An Entire Website On S3
As long as your website consists only of static files, it’s actually possibly to host the whole thing on Amazon. The speed will be relatively fast compared to a shared hosting, and you’ll never have to worry about downtime. As a cost estimate, a 20-page website with about 10MB of files with 200 visitors a day would work out at about $5 a month to host on Amazon, and you’ll need to do a little editing of your domain name configuration to get it working. Unfortunately this won’t work for a dynamic database-driven website, such as a WordPress-based blog.
In terms of reliability, S3 offers perhaps the best uptime of any online service provider, no matter what you choose to use it for. The goal of Amazon S3 Web Services is not to offer a complete packaged product that you can just use though, but rather to offer the tools and services to build products on top of. It’s exciting to see what has been done so far, not just with S3 but with the entire range of services they offer that we will explore at a later date.
For now, let us know if you have other unique uses for S3 in the comments, or if you already make use of another cloud storage facility.
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