by Garret McMahon, MSc. candidate with the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee
With the proliferation of smartphones and social media, civil society has emerged as an agent in both intelligence gathering and information generation. Digital open source information has been described as user-generated content that includes video, audio, images and text either publicly uploaded to the internet or created by witnesses and captured as part of an inquiry or investigation. Human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are now training activists to develop workflows that support the preservation, authentication, use, and accessibility of the digital content they are creating. This adaptation of approaches drawn from digital forensics, records management and digital preservation warrants further investigation to discover both the constraints and flexibilities of existing archival frameworks to accommodate such materials.
I am currently conducting a survey on recordkeeping system criteria used to establish and maintain the authenticity and reliability of records. Activities within these systems should lend weight to the establishment of a chain of custody from the point of capture through to the decisions made to either retain, destroy, transfer or permanently preserve.
A questionnaire of anonymous, non-mandatory multiple-choice questions has been drafted to support this enquiry. I am particularly interested in hearing from archival organisations who are either engaged with or planning for the long-term digital preservation of user-generated content. Please fill in the survey at this link: https://dundee.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/the-management-and-preservation-of-open-source-information