Postmodern Values that Threaten National Data Archives

By Chuck | June 15, 2005

Two sessions at the Edinburgh conference helped formulate in my mind some concerns that I have about the future of data archives. Together, the plenary session in which John Curtice described his research about postmodern values and Session G3 on Transforming Data Archives unified for me (i) ideas about anti-institutional values expressed in postmodernism and (ii) current organizational threats to data archives.

I have been troubled by the struggles we have confronted in Canada to establish a national institution to preserve data. I am convinced that an impediment to our success is directly related to a sentiment of anti-institutionalism that exists in conjunction with the technology of the Internet. This has led me to write an essay in which I have constructed an argument exposing the anti-institutional values exhibited in the Internet and the threat that they pose to data archives. As an example, I discuss how the concept of “self-archiving” promoted through digital repositories is a misconceived idea rooted in postmodernist values of individualism.

I have submitted this essay to the IQ for consideration and have received in the interim consent to release a pre-print version in conjunction with this entry on IASSIST Communiqué. I will propose in the comments to this entry some possible actions that could become part of the IASSIST Strategic Plan as a line of defense for data archives.

This entry also tests how we might use the IASSIST blog to discuss issues that should be addressed in the IASSIST Strategic Plan. Please join in this debate.