Public institutions have been carrying out various transactions and they produce records which are evidence of both the activities carried out and the rights and authority of individuals. The archives, where this evidence is kept, have served as a trusted party for centuries. The records which are mostly created on paper, have been produced in a digital since the 21st century. At this point, questions about the digital records are discussed seriously? “How to trust”, “How archivists will preserve” and “How the evidential value of the records will be maintained?
In many countries, public records are considered authentic until proven otherwise. This pre-admission would have been valid for paper records that have a fixed form and do not change during transmission. However, in the digital, the record has a fixed form with the combination of its components. At the same time, there is a possibility that the record may be altered during the transmission. For this reason, it has become one of the fundamental duties of the 21st century archivists to demonstrate that the form and contents of the digital records have not been subject to unauthorised changes and their attributes are preserved.
Showing the attributes of e-records do not change, keeping the systems running continuously and performing risk analysis is some ways to increase the trust in the e-records. As shared values increase, so does the confidence in records. Well-built indicators can be adopted to increase confidence. We use technological and social indicators for this. Do we use technical indicators such as cryptographic validation and software used or social indicators like archival description, records management procedures or file plan? 21st century archivists seem to be doing things that they are not familiar with. They may need to develop seriously. Because the level of knowledge and skills of professionals increases the confidence in the quality of their work.
Until the 21st century, engineers were not among the disciplines that archivists worked with. The use of the digital brings a serious necessity to cooperate with archivists and IT’s. This necessity also resulted in the absence of all stages of a process. For example, in cryptographic validation, not all stages are built by archivists, but they play an essential role in identifying critical elements and this requires archivists to acquire new information. Areas such as digital forensics and computational archival science seem to be among the areas that the archivists of the 21st century should be trained. While it may seem like an effort to acquire this information, the 21st century may be the most exciting century for being an archivist.
By Özhan SAĞLIK , PhD student at Istanbul University in the Information and Records Management Department