of penguins and playlists

I’m not a big fan of music awards, or at least I don’t pay them the attention I once did. So I’d completely missed out on GoGo Penguin and their Mercury nomination in 2014. They're about to release their third album of electronica-influenced jazz. That sounds odd, but they’re not so far removed from some of the releases by Aphex Twin or the Warp Artificial Intelligence series from the '90s. And they’re rather good.

I found them via a genre-based station on a music streaming service, which I suppose is the 21st century version of hearing a track on the radio. The joy of a streaming service is that, unlike the radio, I can skip the stuff I don’t like and I don’t have to suffer the interruptions of a DJ. Superstar algorithms anyone?



cultural mathematics

(Archivists + Museum Curators) x Historians = an award for public engagement!


Congratulations to all my University colleagues involved in the Great War Dundee project. Here's Stephen Fry explaining why the project won the award to which he lends his name.



festive 15, 2015

Although I’m a little later than normal with this post, I have been looking back at records I've enjoyed during the last twelve months or so. In no particular order, here's my festive 15, 2015:

1. Man it Feels Like Space again by Pond

2. Glass Riffer by Dan Deacon

3. Panda Bear meets the Grim Reaper by Panda Bear

4. The remastered Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin

5. The Race for Space by Public Service Broadcasting

6. The remastered Laid/Wah Wah by James.

7. Inamorata by Federation of the Disco Pimp

8. + - by Mew

9. 'Round Midnight: the complete blue note singles by Thelonious Monk

10. Lots of tracks by Tom Petty (& the Heartbreakers)

11. Central Belters by Mogwai

12. All of Television's studio back catalogue (including the self-titled album from the 1990s)

13. Betty's Blends, Vol two by Chris Robinson Brotherhood

14. Interludes for the Dead by Circles around the sun

15. Undiscovered Worlds by Christopher Crawford (

A few honourable mentions:

- Fare Thee Well and the Dave's Picks series by the Grateful Dead

- Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival by Jimi Hendrix

- It's Great To Be Alive! by the Drive by Truckers

- Alternative Light Source by Leftfield

- Moonbuilding 2703 by The Orb

Best wishes for 2016!



telling stories

My friend Euan is fond of explaining how stories can spark change. Stories acting as ways to help 'everyone make sense of what could otherwise be difficult to understand'. In a recent blog post he recalls how listening to a group of finance officers tell their stories 'flew in the face of conventional wisdom that would have us believe that accountants are not the most exciting people in the world'. I suspect that conventional wisdom might reach the same conclusion about those of us that work in recordkeeping or information compliance...

Yet the role of finance officers is crucial to organisations. As Euan puts it, 'all of them had a significant role to play in the overall story of their businesses'. I think you could make the same argument for recordkeepers, information governance teams or information compliance officers.

So how do we make that argument? We tell our stories. We explain what we do and why. How our goals align with the objectives of our organisations. How records and information management can be a driver for change and improvement. We tell our stories in ways that all our colleagues can understand. With as little jargon as possible. We make our stories relevant to them.

Finding ways to express the relevance of records and information management was a recurring theme at the recent IRMS Ireland/UCD event. It's been a recurring theme at almost every archives/records management event I've ever attended. Despite that, we still seem to tell our stories to each other. To other recordkeepers. We need to remember to tell them to people outwith our profession.

That’s why the IRMS Scotland/Perth & Kinross Council event that’s coming up in November is so interesting. It’s being held with the express intention of exploring how records and information management supports the use of information as an asset and can trigger improvement and change. Importantly, the audience won’t just be made up of recordkeepers or information compliance officers. The attendees will include lots of people working in the public sector in Scotland, all with differing roles and responsibilities.

My role? I’ll be trying to show how information compliance can be a catalyst for change. I’ll be telling a story. So will other records professionals. But this time we won’t just be talking to ourselves.



on being given a great topic

I’m heading to Dublin. University College Dublin and the IRMS Ireland group have been kind enough to invite me to speak at their event - ‘Issues in contemporary records management’. My brief is quite wide. I'm 'exploring the relevance of records and records management in changing times'.

It's a great topic. I get to bring together some of the questions and ideas I've been playing with in other recent papers. Is 'record' still a useful concept? What is the role of records management in modern organisations? Should we be concerned about the future of our profession? Are we paranoid?

I'm looking forward to this one.