Matter of Facts

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He spoke in a very matter-of-fact tone. Matter-Of-Fact unknown. Describing intense and unfathomable awesomeness embodied within a human being. See Samuel L. Jackson or Bruce Willis 2. Used in conjunction with a verb this word shows how intense and cool a look or action was. Jackson is so Matter-of-Fact' 2.

New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.

When someone speaks, acts or performs around others in a way that assumes the other people already know the basics. This can be fine for all parties involved, but it can also be considered rude, depending on what the subject matter is and who's receiving it. A friend invites you over for dinner with his family.

I think that is perhaps the most powerful way that we can find some sort of justice and reconciliation for something that maybe should never have happened in the first place but what a wonderful gift she had to be able to hear his voice because the evidence had survived if only precariously in the basement of the Town Hall in Manchester.

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So if evidence is this valuable then crisis, what crisis? The crisis is that deluge of data that we have, that we have far too much evidence swirling around the world along with data that does not have a long-term value, we are sleepwalking our way I think through this evidential crisis because we are not recognising that we need to address evidence differently. The first assumption is that we know what we mean when we talk about evidence or when we talk about archives, records or data.

Well old stuff in libraries but the new stuff in your phone and the new stuff in the cloud and the digital stuff.

We have far too many assumptions about these words which is one of the reasons I shy away from using the word archives now and prefer the word evidence. We need to shake the assumption that evidence is physical. Evidence now is overwhelmingly digital. It is not static and dusty and old, it is fluid and moving and changeable. Facebook posts are used as proof. We saw that with the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the Brexit story. Oral testimonies can be admitted as evidence in court. Databases hold information with evidential value.

Facial recognition software is just the latest of the types of evidence that we are starting to realise needs to be protected. I think governments are not obligated to create records or keep them safely, as robustly as they should be. The next assumption is that the computer will solve the problem and that technology is going to be our saviour. I am a bit horrified in my research at the environmental costs of digital storage. In my book I talk about an example I encountered in Canada. They completed the job in They estimated that if one person had done it it would have taken years to do the job.

Then you still have to keep refreshing it and migrating it and moving into different systems. Forever is a very, very long time.

Matter-of-fact | Definition of Matter-of-fact by Merriam-Webster

So what do we do in the face of these realities? First, we need to look at those definitions. What do we mean when we talk about data and evidence and information? Then we need to look at our legislative and regulatory environments. We need to look at our ethical frameworks. We need to engage much more actively with evidence and with each other and we need to raise awareness of the value of it and participate much more actively in its care. Let me talk about those before I end.

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First, as I said before we need to hammer home these definitions. We need to say data is not just data, it is not anonymous, it is not passive, it is not vague. It can carry evidential value.

A MATTER OF FACTS - JT Music Fact Rap Challenge

We need to look at the word archives and say it does not have to mean old or static or dry or dusty. We need to modernise our legislation and regulations. We need much more robust privacy legislation and I think we need to look at the idea of duty to document for the public sector. But again the main change I would make in the legislative and regulatory world would be to reconcile all these different definitions. The definitions can be overlapping, contradictory and complicated. What is data in one realm might be evidence in another. We also need to look at third party regulation.

Google is worth billion and Apple is worth almost a trillion. These are not public utilities. Are they publishers?


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Are they private agencies? We have entered a world where our digital communications and relationships need to be looked at completely differently.

A Matter of Facts

We need new regulations in order to address this in terms of privacy, access, intellectual property and the protection of evidence. Quite the contrary, I think we need laws that support transparency and honesty. But we need to do something about third party providers such as Facebook or Google who seem to feel that somehow they are neutral platforms.


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  • We can say no. I think we need to look at how governments prioritise the use of technology as well. It is amazing to me again the environmental costs and the energy costs of using computer technology. Are we assuming that everybody will have to have a smartphone in order to access their health records? Are we going to set up an environment where everybody has to be stopped and plugged in every once in a while in order to be able to carry on with their working life? Next, we need to engage not only with evidence but with the mediators who use that evidence such as historians, genealogists, statisticians and journalists.

    I think the big call now is for us as in my world, the recordkeeping world, to work much more closely with journalists because we need to make sure that journalism stays alive because then the records will be protected. Finally, I think we need to engage, inspire and educate. This was a personal truth masquerading as policy. In on the other hand the BBC reported a study by academics in Uganda and Norway working with students in Kampala, Uganda in a broadcast called You Can Handle The Truth that showed that the children as young as 10 could distinguish the scientific basis for viruses like AIDS and distinguish them from local myths about the disease with only basic education and training.

    We need to train children to understand what evidence is, we need historicity as much as we need literacy. We need to engage with them and raise awareness of the value, we need to embrace and visit archives, visit libraries, write letters to the paper when you see an exhibit that you like that includes documentary materials, let the world know that this matters. I have written this book as a form of protest because I know a lot of my colleagues are civil servants who cannot speak out the way I can as an independent scholar and a consultant.

    But I believe that our job as professional archivists and recordkeepers is to protect evidence, not the evidence we like, not the evidence we prefer but the evidence of the whole story.