Friday, November 16, 2007

The future of the classification scheme

Leafing through the November issue of the Records Management Society Bulletin I was struck by the fact that three of the major papers within it all related directly to issues around classification and the creation of classification schemes.

This may reflect nothing more than sheer coincidence or editorial grouping, but the reason why it struck me as significant is when viewed next to the content of Paul Duller’s editorial piece 'Through the looking glass' which raised many of the challenges posed by the introduction of Web2.0 that will be familiar to regular readers of this blog. Put simply, I’m just not sure how the two concepts will co-exist in the future (assuming predictions of the rise and rise of Web2.0, especially in the form of Office2.0 prove accurate).

In this world we could see users choosing to store their information on a range of unconnected, often externally hosted and media specific systems: be that Google Docs for text files, Flickr for photos or YouTube for video clips. Sure it is still possible for us to identify and even document the functions and processes which are creating this information, but we have nothing left to hang this on. There is no underlying architecture which we can mould into the shape of our classification schemes; no way of joining up the disparate pieces save in ways which are completely divorced from the process of creating the information in the first place.

One of the papers, 'Don’t build your house on sand' by Jeff Morelli finishes by describing a robustly created business classification scheme as a ‘solid foundation (which) guarantees the long term viability of their electronic records management programme’. Unfortunately I fear that the longevity of such schemes’ contents may well be fatally undermined by our inability to continue to apply them to the volume and diversity of information our users are creating and the technology they are using to create them.

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