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Friday the 13th-Risk or Record?

Another successful Sue Hill Recruitment breakfast brought together a hungry group of information professionals whose roles have taken them into the 'darkness' that is Records Management or is it Information Management or was it Knowledge Management?  And there lies the rub – it is all in the meaning. 

One fundamental point was raised even before we were tucking into our breakfast. RM means to some Risk Management and to other Records Management. In boiling all the conversation we concluded that essentially it is all about mitigating risk for organisations and that can be both a barrier and driver in terms of how successful RM programmes can be.  In looking at trying to make sense of the terminology that we currently employ, it appears that Information is defined as knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance.  Records are defined as an account, as of information or facts, set down especially in writing as a means of preserving knowledge.  Preservation would appear to be the key, information does not necessarily need to be preserved as it gets refreshed continually – but the recording of something at a point in time is preserving that 'information' it becomes static in that case.

The debate will continue but I really liked the aspect of Risk.  If Information Management is defined as managing electronic information in databases, how does that differ from Records Management, which is also management of electronic information in databases? Maybe the debate is about how do we define Information!!

2 comments to this post

  •  :  The breakfast was great and the discussion stimulating. We were a diverse group of information professionals and what struck me was how much we keep developing and adapting in our roles as we respond to changing circumstances. Certainly the value of mitigating risk has gained greater prominence in our work. I think because of this we info pros have greater “leverage” within organisations. But some of the comments made also indicated how much often remains to be done to ensure good management of information. I particularly liked the Neapolitan versus Strawberry Ripple analogy!
  •  :  I agree the breakfast was really good - a great opportunity to discuss the information challenge with all. How to define information is likely to remain a matter of debate for some time - especially in the freedom of information age in the UK public sector - just what is it that we are trying to free? For me, records as evidence remains an important definition, and it was interesting to note that despite the many and varied changes in approach to Information Management that were discussed, the key for many of us remained one of the core functions of Records (and Risk) Management - when and how can we dispose of the huge quantities of information being generated by our organisations.

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