Technology transforms the way researchers get access to archives. Every archival collection contains uncountable informations that usually are very useful and important for the work of researchers. Although today the meaning of word “information” is a very multidimensional and moral controversial by the world around us because of the rapid evolution of modern technology. Looking for the most accurate answer to the question “what is technology”, we can immediately realise that it is not easy to give a complete and adequate answer. Science and Technology of the 21st Century are so dependent on each other that it becomes impossible to separate and identify the boundaries of each field individually. In today’s modern society, therefore, the relationship between the scientific and technological field is arbitrarily perceived as the basic and unique feature that defines technology. It is extremely impressive to watch the advancement of technology in the modern era, especially in the last fifteen years. Within a short time, humanity has been able to develop many powerful means of digital imaging and communication that rapidly transform the world in which we live in a futuristic environment that most scenarios of science fiction are now a tangible reality. Another essential point is that new machines and technological tools represent larger, even unprecedented, opportunities for archivists to support one of the core elements of their professional mission, namely the use of archive files used.
Despite technological developments but in all scientific disciplines, archival science remains a part of the scientific world based on old-fashioned principles and faithful to classical values. Through my attendance, at university, I had the opportunity to discover that in the study, creations, and accessibility of the archives few things have been evolved and changed since the last century. The technology and digital birth of records is often a term unknown to archivists who have as a role model the work of great researchers who devoted their scientific work to the formulation of the theoretical technological evolution of archival science in an era when the technological means were few and the access to them financially unbearable. Thus, the new archivists regrettably rest on the theoretical principles of the previous ones, often disregarding the practical part such as the revolution of digital creation and sustainability in a field so important and so scientifically challenged at the same time.
To conclude, in this research, I aim to explain the problems and weaknesses of archival science for a digital future, but at the same time to challenge future archivists who will bring new ideas and modernise one of the old-fashioned scientific disciplines of modern society.
2. The power of information
It is quit shown that we are in the midst of an information revolution, and we are only beginning to understand its implications. The past decade we experienced a dramatic transformation in the way we receive informations, change that has resulted in a n unprecedented proliferation of records and data. Small details that were once captured in dim memories or fading scarps of paper are now preserved forever in the digital minds of computers, in vast databases with fertile fields of personal data. Every day, rivulets of information stream into electric brains to be sifted and combined in hundreds of different ways. Technology allow us the preservation of the minutia of our everyday comings and goings, of who we are and what we own. Today through the use of computers, dossiers are being constructed about all of us. Of course, this system of information and recording of personal data is reinforced by the furious use of social media by billions of users across the globe. On the other hand technology is the reason why the global educational system can speak for a future with equal opportunities for all.
Digital technology is pervasive; its use, particularly by the world’s youth, is universal; its possibilities are vast; and everyone in multiple educational and cultural institutions is trying to figure out what to do with it all. It is mandatory that museums, libraries, and archives join with educational institutions in embracing it. Nowadays, it is so easy for everyone to have access to information that was available only to the experts. Suddenly, everybody can take part in the creative processes of institutions, something that in the past were not even in public view. Technology today has already created a golden age of opportunities. Online access to digital objects, images and records is democratising knowledge and give the opportunity to an avast amount of people to broaden their horizons and and to gain insight into many social and scientific issues with great ease. Of course, the greatest source of information in the modern technological age we are experiencing is the Internet. The Internet is the largest technological tool invented to change the communication of man and to transform the concept of information into a multidimensional term. Everyday we are bombarded by unprecedented information, through which we can acquire knowledge that would in the past require extensive research.
Despite the public’s access to “easy information”, many scientific disciplines have been persistently adhering to the social developments of the past decades, many times unable to adapt to modern technological and social data. Archival science unfortunately is one of them and this technological alienation is completely opposite with the policy and strategy that many academic institutions follow these days. These institutions, with their “open access” ethics they embraced both digitisation and social networking giving the opportunity of K–12 education as never before. Museums in particular can bridge the gap between formal and informal learning with lesson plans, online summits, real-time connections to experts, and better credentialing of informal digital learning. The lesson to be learned is that there is a place for both the physical and the digital, with one complementing and leveraging the other. Archivist should gradually understand that the only way for the archival science survival through the ages is the digitisation process and the creation of digital born archives. In a technologically advanced future, informations will be created and will recorded in a digital way. In addition, existing archival collections in order to survive should be digitised from experts. With this process archives and valuable records will pass through eternity and at the same time though internet the informations will be available to the public and not only to natural visitors.
3. Physical and digital form of archives
Until fairly recently most of the official transactions were accomplished by means of paper documents, such letters, deeds, reports and other written or typed records. Materials like these still form the largest part of record materials in practically all archives. Modern technology is rapidly changing the way in which the public and govern authorities conduct their affairs, and thus altering the nature of archives. During the 19th century the invention of the printing press and typewriter have had an important effect on the physical characteristics of archives. Especially photography has had and have until today an equal impact; encompassing pictorial records, cinematographic records, aerial photography and microphotography. Of course in 19th century also the widespread use of sound recording has accompanied and complemented various photographic processes. Although in archival science the most profound technical innovation of all time affecting records creation and use is the computer. It is revolutionising our lives in innumerable ways, many of which have to do with the creation and manipulation of information.
The further we advance into the computer age, the greater will be the reliance of government and other segments of society on computers to handle matters that once were documented solely on paper; and the proportion of information in archival repositories on machine-readable media may be expected to increase exponentially.
Archives may thus be seen to take many physical forms, each of which has its own special requirements for storage, preservation and use. The major categories may be briefly described as follows: Manuscripts, cartographic and architectural records, audio – visual materials, machine – readable records, printed archives. It might be noted here, parenthetically, that both micro- reproduction and the computer are increasingly versatile and powerful tools for accomplishing a variety of sophisticated tasks in archival repositories, as well as serving as the means of recording permanently valuable information which eventually comes into archival custody.
At present, it is well known that computers and everything associated with them are changing and developing so rapidly that archivists and writers cannot keep up with ought them. Nowadays we seem to have moved from a period of excessive optimism to a period in which the limitations and drawbacks of automated systems are mush to the front of users minds.
In addition, over the last twenty or twenty-five years, many of the largest archive repositories have begun experiments seeking the development of computerised archive descriptive databases. In many repositories, these efforts have gone through the experimental stage and are now being incorporated into ongoing substantive programs. Storage and publication of aid through these programs is now taking place in some storage areas. Since the 1970s in the United States of America, many archive repositories have joined the “SPINDEX III” programs, with a view to a sufficiently extensive network for the computerised accumulation, manipulation and exchange of archival descriptive information. Although this particular program was created in order to provide administrative control over holdings and provide automated forms of access to archival materials, this research had been very beneficial for the archival science itself. ?n todays society, online search of archive data bases is now technically feasible, although in any given repository it is likely that only a fraction of the available descriptive data is still computerised.
4. The spectrum of automated systems in archives
A computer is an electrical device for processing information. This particular definition makes pretty obvious that a computer is something relevant to the work of those who deal with information. Archives offices and archives units in libraries and museums are examples of specialises data banks. These are places where large amounts of a certain kind of importation are stored in safe keeping and can be utilised, because for them every single information is of significance to society.Thanks to synchronous technological developments, archivists have discovered that electronic and automated systems are capable of enhancing multidisciplinary research on analysing and evaluating archival material.
A rapid survey of existing archival applications reveal that exists several areas in which automated processes could be or have been introduced. According to research of Michael Cook there are four categories of archival material that modern technology can drastically involved.
Beginning with the record management, nowadays it is obvious that computer systems can be used to control the inflow of records into custody, the identification of documents required by users, the control of documents issued to users and their return, and the identification of records due for disposal at a particular time. But new technology trends have already made the challenge of modernisation more complex as well. The current pace of informational proliferation with a series of new forms for unstructured data such video and the wide dispersal of data on social media conversations, and with the extensive and ongoing use of mobile phones and computers, digital clouds like Google Drive and iCloud push constantly the record management out of the physical realm with the aim of creating a well-managed digital future.
The preservation and control of archives passing through various processes ( sorting, storage, fumigation, etc) in order for the archival material to be suitable for further processing. Once it has been determined through the appraisal process that certain records are worthy of permanent preservation as archives, the most basic task of archivists is to ensure the preservation of these materials. Technology again is the key for archivists in order to solve the problems of preservation which before the introduction of the automated systems becoming more complex, difficult and expensive as additional recording media find their place in archives.
Special archival projects, such as the construction of large-scale digital indexes. Archives are nowadays almost unthinkable without a website, online catalogues and increasingly also online finding aids and digital collections. However, even when using overviews and repertories it is not easy to get a good view of these collections. Digital image galleries often contain digital portfolios and scanned archival collections, but it is very difficult and time consuming for users to actually use these particular archival indexes. For that reason technology in combination with the necessary human resources is capable to convert a large volume of data and text into digital form, which may simply sound, but in fact it is one of the most difficult projects that an archivist can take.
Another essential separate group of activities concerns the management of machine-readable archives and records. Through years, records have been produced in variety of sizes, types and shapes. Regardless of whether records are printed text or hand-copied books information can be recognised by reader only by looking at the text. Multimedia records in audio and video form, have revolutionised the way we can store and process the information. Such records require technological equipment to read the information they hold and modern archivists call them as machine-readable archives. Last but not least, the format encompasses both the physical media and the way the electronic signals are recorded on that media.
To conclude, as future archivists we can observe that technology is transforming the way in which researchers gain access to archives, not only in the choices archivists make about their uses of technology but in the portable technologies researchers bring with them to the archives. The dramatic influence of digital revolution in 19th and 20th century it is something remarkable because the new machines represent greater, even unprecedented, opportunities for archivists to support one of the main elements of their professional mission, namely, getting archival records used.
5. Digital technology in archives
Archivists especially in the last decades have witnessed many changes in acquiring copies of documents. For many generations they required to hand copy the documents or they hired copyists. In the end of 19th century digital scanners brought a new era in researcher copying. Scanning devices allowed archivists to examine the information contained in archive collections more easily and in combination with the Internet to share this information with users simply by uploading them to websites. Digital copies can be cleaned up and provided to users, keeping in mind that a high–resolution digital master is always required for photographs. However, it is not just the custodians of records who are making use of scanning devices. ?heir electronic “eyes” measure the light reflected off a scanned surface and convert it into binary code.
There are many advantages offered to archives adopting more vigorously the use of scanners. For archivists scanner and portable means of digital imaging offers many advantages and even more valuable features. Image reproduction make archivists job more simple and easy because they can scan a document and then provide a copy to users without the user handling the original manuscript. Nevertheless, among the advantages of digital documents is the ability for the archivist to manipulate user copies. By digitising the most endangered, and most used documents, an archives is also taking an important step in safeguarding, if not the physical artefact itself, at least its virtual memory. Digital copies is an intelligent for archivists way to reproduce high-resolution digital back up records in order t? maintain the keep safe the information in case of a disastrous fire or flood. Of course, not all archivists have the same view on the scanning process. Many researchers have argued that the process accelerates the destruction of sensitive and harassed records. Nevertheless recent Studies have found that scanning most adversely affects documents that are already aged and deteriorating.