EDRM and Web 2.0 – where two worlds collide.

Possibly at a slight tangent to the collaboration and knowledge management memes that I normally write about, and no doubt exposing my roots in Information Management, I’ve been doing some research into the potential dichotomies between the highly structured and organised world of document and records management, and the relatively unstructured (some might almost say ‘anarchic’) world of Web 2.0.  I’ve been particularly intrigued by how Information and Records Managers working for public sector organisations seem to be oblivious to the growing trend towards use of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Google Apps by staff who have become frustrated by the limitations of their Enterprise systems. And this in environments where effective data/information governance is essential for meeting compliance and regulatory requirements, i.e. central and local government.

Soon after embarking on this journey of enlightenment I realised that there were very few people who seemed to fully appreciate the impact and implications of data and information being created across multiple applications and repositories in organisations where there is public accountability. One notable exception is Steve Bailey, who’s book “Managing the Crowd: rethinking records management for the web 2.0 world“  became my main inspiration for developing my own thoughts on this issue, but I should also acknowledge my friend and colleague James Lappin, who I’ve turned to on more than one occasion for support and advice on some complex information management issue and from whom I’ve borrowed more than one idea in the following preamble I used for a recent presentation on this particular topic.

In the mid 1990’s records management simply transferred its paper practices over into the electronic world; building classification structures and folders into network drives or Electronic Document and Records Management (EDRM) systems.

Web 1.0 didn’t make any significant difference to EDRM strategies. Staff passively consumed websites, but they were still dependent for theor own work on the systems provided, policed and controlled by their organisations. Now Web 2.0 is here, colleagues can create, share and store information in any number of web-hosted applications: Google docs, blogs, wikis, Slideshare, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook etc. The information is not held on the organisation’s servers. Web 2.0 is tilting the balance of power away from the organisation towards the individual.

There is a dichotomy between organisation-centric information management and user-centric information management, which is not being recognised or given sufficient priority by Records Managers. It will be interesting to see how future disclosure if information under the Freedom of Information Act will be addressed where significant parts of the ‘evidential record’ are distributed across different applications, many of which are outside the firewall, and many of which are potentially unknown to CIO’s.

I presented on this dichotomy between the structure and control as enforced through traditional electronic document and records managements systems (EDRMS) and the almost freeform environment of Web 2.0 at a recent Public Sector Forums event. Perhaps the title of the presentation is a little over-dramatic, but my intention was to evoke some interest and reaction from what appears to be a very laissez faire attitude to all this from Records Managers and other information management professionals.  I don’t profess to have all the answers to the issues, but it might go some way to thinking about how these issues are going to be addressed if there was at least some recognition that current IM policies and standards are at best out of date and at worst, completely irrelevant in a Web 2.0 world. Perhaps this blog might at least raise some awareness!

Edrm And Web 2.0 Where Two Worlds Collide Slideshare Mar09

View more presentations from Steve Dale.


  1. […] A better checklist of survival initiatives I cannot imagine. Similar sentiments are being expressed elsewhere, from Clay Shirky’s Ontology is Overrated a few years ago, to the challenge posed by Web 2.0 to structured information management disciplines like Records Management  (see e.g. Steve Dale’s recent blog entry EDRM and Web 2.0 – where two worlds collide). […]

    April 7, 2009

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