Given the topics of the day, it seems email might be here to stay after 40+ years as our information overlord. It’s also fairly evident from the talks that email’s creators are sadistic monsters who have no idea how difficult it is to record-manage the stuff. If the Library of Congress and National Archives are throwing up their hands and saying, sure, you can just send it to us as PDF files, clearly, we’re on the wrong side of history?
Hand-wringing aside, one of the talks I appreciated was Glynn Edwards (Stanford); she delved into some of the issues involved in performing natural language processing (NLP) with a software tool called ePADD. Tools in this domain are still very much in development, which is one of the reasons the RATOM project sought to bring together experts working in this area. The TOMES project out of the NC State Archives is another recent email archiving “big project” that may result in some best (or maybe just better?) practices for government agencies and state libraries. The “capstone” approach, in which the most “critical” email accounts in an organization (think top of the org chart) are the prioritized targets for email accessioning, has become a respected approach that enables archives to dispose of unneeded email records more decisively.
Kam Woods (UNC) finished up the day with an overview of RATOM and its goals, and participants had a chance to select a breakout group for extended discussions about the day’s topics. Overall, ML4ARC touched on quite a few emerging and important topics, and I look forward to following the RATOM project as it establishes strategies and tools for some of records management’s most stubborn challenges.