Electronic Records Research 1997: Resource Materials
Compilation Copyright, Archives & Museum Informatics 1998
Article Copyright, Author
WHEN IS A RECORD CREATED IN THE ELECTRONIC ENVIRONMENT?
The necessary and sufficient requirements for any record to be created (made or received) are:
b. content (facts or information)
d. persons (author, writer, addressee and creator)
f. archival bond
The implied necessary and sufficient requirements for any record to be made are:
g. intent to be transmitted
h. capability of being transmitted
i. readability at the creation stage by the intended addressee
j. intelligibility at the creation stage by the intended addressee
The implied necessary and sufficient requirements for any record to be received are:
k. successful transmission
l. readability at receipt
m. intelligibility at receipt
PROPOSITION: for any electronic record to be created all these requirements must be met.
The entity needs to be saved on a medium (on the hard drive, to a floppy disk, etc.) at least once when compiled or received.
The entity needs to carry facts or information. This means that so-called "virtual records," which consist of pointers needed to create documents, have a content constituted by the information on the basis of which such documents are created. If these virtual entities meet all the other necessary and sufficient requisites, they are records of the sources used to create records. The same reasoning can be applied to metadata.
The entity needs to have a readable and intelligible form. As the form is taken by the content that is affixed to the medium, it follows that the physical and intellectual form is stable at the moment of creation. (Specific elements of form are needed to have a complete, reliable, or authentic record.)
The entity needs to have an author, a writer or originator, an addressee, and a creator. Do these persons need to be human beings? No. Do these persons need to be juridical persons? Not all of them, only the author and/or the creator. They need to be recognised by the juridical system as capable of acting, that is, as having a will that can create, maintain, modify, or extinguish situations. For example, if an expert system makes decisions capable of generating consequences recognised as such by the juridical system, it has to be considered a juridical person. However, a database, such as a GIS, is not a juridical person, having no will.
The entity needs to be directly connected with some action. Specifically, it must either carry out an action (e.g., a job advertisement sent via E-Mail), provide evidence of an action already carried out (e.g., report of a job interview), provide support to an action (e.g., questions for the interview prepared ahead of time), or provide information on which to base action (e.g., the applicant's curriculum vitae). Observational databases, for example, do not contain entities directly connected with action. However, entities extracted from such databases can come into direct connection with action. (This absolves us from an item by item examination of databases.)
f. archival bond
The entity needs to be part of the whole of the documents made or received in the course of the activities of its creator. This implies that the entity has established and unique relationships with those documents. These relationships arise when the entity is set aside for use (for example, filed in a directory, in an E-Mail file, registered, classified, etc.).
The entity needs to be created with the intent and the capacity of being communicated.
It is essential to underline that the requirements discussed above must coexist in any given entity for it to be considered a record. For example, if an individual queries a database and retrieves an "answer," both query and answer (which obviously have been transmitted) can be considered record(s) only if their content is saved by that individual to a medium, in a readable and intelligible form, and connected by an archival bond (that is, by saving them to the proper file, or assigning them a classification or registration code) to the specific activity that they were meant to support. In this example, the action is entirely carried out by the person who sends the query and retrieves the answer, who would therefore be the author, writer, addressee and creator of the record(s) in question. This act (retrieving information) cannot be considered a transaction because it is not aimed to change, maintain, extinguish or create relationships or situations among two or more persons, as only one person is involved.
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