A Review of Steve Bailey’s “Managing the Crowd: rethinking records management for the web 2.0 world”

“Managing the Crowd: rethinking records management for the web 2.0 world” by Steve Bailey examines the place of records management in the web 2.0 world, and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who wants to better understand the ways the profession needs to adapt and evolve to cope with changing technology. The book is highly readable and Bailey writes with clarity, assuming the reader only has a layman’s knowledge of new internet technologies without being patronising.

Bailey starts by clearly explaining what Web 2.0 is, how it compares to Web 1.0 and how this changes the nature of records and records keeping, paying particular attention to the blurring of boundaries between work and home that Web 2.0 allows and how this results in the definition of business records becoming unclear.[1] He discusses how maybe what the 2.0 world needs is a more fluid and less rigid adherence to the old structures and methods of records management in order to better capture all and only the data that’s actually needed.

One of the biggest draws is that while Bailey presents the facts clearly and unstintingly he will not answer subjective questions, instead demanding the reader decide for themselves how best to apply their new knowledge of the rapidly changing digital world. Rather than trying to be an authoritative voice for the brave new world of records management in Web 2.0 he points out that the nature of the web requires each records manager to decide how best to adapt industry practises to serve their employer’s needs, encouraging debate within the field and encouraging a more fluid implementation of records management practise.

“Managing the Crowd” is not a how to guide for handling records in the internet age because the nature of the modern internet means that every organisation’s needs are so individual that no single set of guidelines could cover all of them and remain efficient. What it does do is give you the tools to create your own guidelines tailored to your organisation by providing clear outlines of the new types of records and records keeping, explaining the problems and assets that come with them, and encouraging innovative approaches to integrating them with the traditional systems currently in use.

 

[1] Steve Bailey Managing the Crowd: rethinking records management for the web 2.0 world (Facet Publishing London: 2008) pp. 3 – 13

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