Technology and Recordkeeping

The Impact of Technology

Heiroglyphics

Man has recorded information since he first inhabited the Earth. The cave man drew cave paintings, the Egyptians created hieroglyphics and even God laid down the Ten Commandments on a tablet of stone.

Historically a physical medium was required to document information and it was extremely time consuming and costly to reproduce. With the discovery of electricity man entered a new era, which allowed information to be coded then stored as symbols and transmitted across great distances at almost the speed of light, that is 3000000 kilometres per second. An example of an early coded information system is Morse Code, which utilises a series of dots and dashes to relay information.

With the invention of electronic computers in 1946, the information could not only be stored and transmitted easily, it could be processed and manipulated. A further development in 1958 saw the emergence of the Integrated Circuit (Chip).

Circuit

This significantly reduced the space needed to store information as many circuits could be housed in a small area. The microprocessor made an appearance in 1971 and combined with the evolution of the Internet and Personal computers, revolutionised society in an unprecedented manner. These advances in technology transformed almost every aspect of everyday life. In 1965, Gordon Moore of Intel predicted that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits would double every year for the foreseeable future. The implications for information production and storage are astonishing. As storage capabilities increase, costs are reduced and the production of information multiplies exponentially.

Information has become a valuable commodity and access to it is now seen as an economic necessity. Information can now be accessed almost anywhere in the world, any time of the day, by anyone with a personal computer and access to the internet. This has created immense challenges for information and recordkeeping professionals, such as copyright, security and freedom of information issues.

Paper based records systems did not carry issues which are evident with digital records. Physical records are not easily corrupted and any changes made are usually obvious. However, within the 'copy and paste' society of today, it is relatively easy to alter content and context of records, thereby destroying integrity, authenticity and credibility. Organisations must therefore find ways to preserve records in the manner to which they were created so they will be accepted as credible evidence of its business transactions.

As technology advances, new systems and software emerge that necessitate the migration of information between systems. Issues of compatibility, integrity and access need to be considered. The current life cycle for a Records Management System is five to ten years. Therefore an organisation will need to consider implementing a new Records Management System after a period of at least five years (or one iteration of technology). The methodology for developing a new System is extremely complex and fraught with issues and complications that need to be overcome if the implementation is to be successful. Recordkeeping professionals utilise a reliable method called System Development Life Cycle, which will be discussed in the Issues and Solutions page.

Images: Circuit Board Heiroglyphics


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