Bailey, Steve. Managing the crowd: rethinking records management for the Web 2.0 world London: Facet, 2008. xx, 172 p. ISBN 978-1-85604-641-1. £39.95.
Lately, I have found out that the issue most facinating in the changing world of information professions is the relationship between the individual information activities and the organizational structures and cultures either emerging or superimposed on those activities. It seemed that this issue is fascinating the author of the reviewed book Steve Bailey. His qualifications and career duly listed on the back cover of the book recommend him as a very competent person. His book also shows that he has a thoughtful and analytical approach to the area.
First of all, I liked the distinction that the author makes between the Web 1.0 and 2.0. I am not accepting it as universal, because my firm belief is that the Web from the beginning has emerged as a tool providing freedom for the individual expression of each and everyone. Therefore, new possibilities only expand the original qualities of it without changing intrinsic features. However, within organizational life the arrival of the tools enabling active personal creation and close collaboration resulting in all kinds of digital documents changes the information and records management practices to the extent that demands careful analysis and rethinking of them. It seemed that this book is an attempt to do this or rather to prove that technology has chaged users and, in turn, this should change the whole field of records management by turning it into information management.
However, in fact, the major accent was on the technology, not on the user. Another emphasis was on the inadequacy of traditional record management practices and the necessity of turning it into wider information management. This, I must admit, was not very persuasive for an information manager. Does the technology determine what we do and why we do something? What about different functions of records management and information management? Information managers were always responsible for providing the right information to the right person in the right time and format to enable one to fulfil its task, function, job or satisfy other need. Records managers dealt with records and these are defined not by a format or channel of distribution or access but by a specific function, legal regulations, organizational practices and the like. It rarely mattered whether they were on the velum, paper or a laser disc. Both professional activities were and are overlapping and both are changing their practices because of and with the help of technologies. These practices are more and more integrated, but the functions of records still are distinct from the functions of other information sources.
The expansion of ten principles of records management in Chapter 12 seems to difuse the essence of this specific activity (never mind if it is performed by professionals or by others) and turn it inot everyhting that it is not right in time when it's major concern is how to cope with new challenges and perform best their particular function in digital organizational environments.
Despite my controversial impression of the book, I would recommend it to records managers and information managers as it offers an opportunity to think, object, and find arguments to defend one's position. This is very useful and not every author achieves it.
Professor Elena Maceviciute