Digital Forensication, The Archival Paradigm, and Archival Sense Making

Digital forensication refers to using digital methods, concepts, and tools in contexts other than criminal investigations.  According to Cal Lee from the University of North Carolina (UNC),  efforts have recently been made to connect the forensics and archiving areas.

Institutions are receiving media and want to collect the online traces of individuals.  In response, UNC has created a learning laboratory for studying the application of digital forensics to the acquisition of digital materials, including training, hardware, and software for running exercises.   It also includes creating, annotation, and disseminating data that can be used for instruction.  The Digital Corpora website has a variety of case studies and training aids, such as typical scenarios and problems to be solved.

Here is Lee’s vision for the future of digital forensication.


Personal digital archiving, the diminishing information age, and the archival paradigm

Richard Cox

Richard Cox, Professor of Archival Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (his home page is here) raised challenges for archivists in today’s information environment.  He said that it is easy to become so immersed in technology that we ignore what we know about life.  We are not listening to each other and exchanging information.  Archivists are a rarified group.  How do others see us?

One of today’s realities is that people are losing confidence in their ability to access information.  For example, information is diminishing as e-books proliferate: there is no sensation of page turnings, you cannot comment, etc.  We are losing artifactual information and physical evidence of memories.  The demise of publishers and university presses is not being replaced by new forms of e-scholarship.  The world of information is a free-for-all, so we need librarians more than ever.  Bookstores are taking the place of libraries, but there are no librarians in them!  Students don’t know how to read and think because slow reading is disappearing.  Independent bookstores have been driven out by big chains, which are now in trouble.  You can look at books in stores, but you can’t do it online.  These closings have negative impacts in communities.

Printed newspapers and journals are also disappearing and have been replaced by online versions and blogs.  Blogs are not built on reliable information, so this is another area of declining information.  Places that educate people have changed from library schools to information schools, which don’t have the focus on reading courses, etc.

Archivists worry about collecting things.  We must begin to be enablers, not acquirers.  People are becoming worried about what might happen to their data.  Individuals’ projects don’t solve problems or know what came before.  We must think more deeply and broadly.  What we know of the world comes through words.  What are we writing?


Archival Sense-Making

Mark Matienzo

Amelia Abreu











Mark Matienzo, Digital Archivist in Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, and Amelia Abreu, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington Information School said that in order to make sense of our archives, they must include artifacts as well as documents.  All archival acts are explicitly historical, and all information in them is view as subjective.   In personal digital archives, profiles consist of collections such as scrapbooks, etc.  The context of collecting is significant.  Sense-making shows promise in personal digital archives and can be applied to many archival activities.  It will make archives become more than archives of facts and instead make them “archives of feelings”.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

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