Narratives and Databases: Uneasy Couples
Traditional archives conformed to a clear division of labour.
Written documents, audio recordings or even videotapes were registered
in suitable catalogues. While those indices showed considerable variations
and ingenuity they were clearly subordinated to the more important aim
of making access to the collected material as comfortable as possible,
given the fact that catalogue records in an important sense remained outside
the realm of their respective referents. A book's catalogue card is external
to the textual body of the book itself.
Digitisation of archival holdings has changed the situation
considerably. Databases and their accompanying search and retrieval systems
take over both formerly disjunct functions, holding in evidence a given
resource and administering various ways to access it. The erstwhile systematic
divide between a cataloguing system and its underlying ``substance'' is
becoming increasingly fuzzy as the ability to build intelligent searches
re-constructs the digitised data itself. No longer is a catalogue a mere
auxiliary tool. The dynamics of data modelling are exerting a growing influence
on what used to be self- contained collection items.
To put it bluntly: The logic of data warehousing impinges
directly upon the internal structure of the traditional repositories humanists
care about. An initial step in their attempts to cope with digitisation
must be to articulate the problem as clearly as possible.
Papers held at the conference "Knowledge Networking in Cultural
Studies" are published in
Internet journal for Cultural Studies, No. 10/2001
Published/last change: 2001-06-20
Location (URL): http://www.inst.at/termine/knowledge/hrachovec.htm
© Research Institute for Austrian and International
Literature and Cultural Studies (INST),