The Practice of Stewardship as a Scholarly Discipline
I believe that a systematic and broad study of the practices, policies and condition of the cultural record is emerging as a discipline in its own right, and squarely within the remit of Schools of Information as their programs evolve; indeed, it draws upon a very wide range of intellectual inquiry hosted at i-schools, including economics of information, information management, information assurance and security, digital preservation, and library, museum and archival practices.
In this talk I'll try to define some of the key research questions that such a discipline must engage and explore. These include:
- Inventory and Mapping: What is the cultural record, how is it evolving, how big is it, and what parts are currently being manged by stewardship institutions.
- Selection, Appraisal and Re-appraisal: What are the priorities for stewardship. How are they establshed, and what principles underpin them? How should they adjust under highly inadequate resources? How centralized should decision making be?
- Legal and Policy Issues: This includes, as a central question, how to balance a public interest in stewardship with various intellectual property, artists rights, and privacy regimes.
- Institutions, Collaboration and Succession: Who are the players, and how do they define their roles. What happens when institutions fail?
- Stewardship Transitions: How does responsibility and practical curation move from one locus ot another? When and why do failures occur, and what do we do about them?
This talk is an extended preview of a keynote that I will give at the I School conference later this month.