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INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Week Twelve: Ethics
 

INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Week Twelve: Ethics

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  • Mark Greene’s 2008 SAA Presidential Address: “Defining ourselves in terms other than what we do each morning speaks to our ultimate ability to communicate our value to resource allocators, to find a suitable and sustainable place for ourselves in this information age, and to define and assert our power as a profession.”In many ways, archival ethics statements have been designed to help archivists navigate the issues involved with the creation and management of government records, public access to government records, government secrecy, and even the actions of the government documented in the records Most of the archival ethics statements you’ll see apply to all kinds of archives and archivists, of courseBut archival ethics are generally rooted in concepts such as archives as a public trust, archives as collective memory, public access to archives, etc.And the earliest codes of ethics for archivists were developed by government archivesI think the “Archivist’s Code” is the best example of thisIt was developed at NARA in 1955We saw earlier in the semester how these concepts about archives are drawn from western society’s interaction with government and lawDuranti traced them back to Roman law and we also looked at the French Revolution as the source of concepts like public access and government responsibility to protect our collective memory
  • ProfessionalismCollectivity ActivismSelectionPreservationDemocracyServiceUse and AccessHistory
  • Is government secrecy unethical? Is “spinning” information unethical?The public’s right to know has been a perennial debate both within government and between government and the public Technological advances are enabling governments to be more open and transparent than everBut some information is still privileged or confidential
  • “knotty” ethical problemsMany issues are not legal issues, but ethical issuesIt is very easy to have your position on something be influenced, altered, or overridden
  • Do “unethical” people have the same rights as “ethical” people? How is ethical defined? Who creates the definition?
  • Public service is a public trustJenkinson believed that archival records are held in trust for the publicArchivists have a moral duty to preserve the integrity of archival recordsAchieved through properly arranging and describing archival materialsThings have gotten considerably more complicated…In the course of maintaining the integrity of archives, archivists encounter dilemmas, challenges, and situations that require a moral or ethical compassCodes of ethics for the profession help navigate these issues
  • Concepts like public trust, ethics, values, etc. are subjective. They can be applied or ignored. They can be applied selectively, like Calvin, who doesn’t “believe” in ethics any more because as far as he’s concerned, “the ends justify the means.”
  • Does access trump privacy?Does preservation trump access?Should an archive impose access restrictions beyond what it is legally required to impose?Should archivists be politically neutral or politically active?
  • You acquire and sign a deed of gift for some records from a donor who has requested restrictions on a particular seriesUpon examination of the records you see that some of the closed records reveal evidence of a crime
  • You process a collection of archival materials and find a small set of early 20th century postcardsThe postcards are potentially valuable but they do not fit with the materials or the collection mandate of your archives
  • You are working on a dissertation on labour history and also work at a busy archives with extensive labour holdingsAnother employee makes a find that would significantly enhance your thesis, but you know other researchers will also be interested
  • You work in a government archives and hear from a friend in another department that a director has been deleting emails relating to the development of a controversial new policyYou don’t know if it is true
  • You work in a small church archives and hear from a researcher about a large collection of papers of a well-known playwright that are about to be destroyedThe records do not fit your church archives’ collection mandate
  • Your archives association has signed a contract with a hotelAfter the contract is signed, a labour dispute arises between the hotel and the local hospitality workers unionThe hotel will proceed with replacement workers but the union is calling for a boycott
  • A recent donor has requested a tax receipt for a significant donationYou bring in two NAAB certified appraises who determine a fair market value of the collectionThe donor is unsatisfied with the result of the appraisal
  • Codes of Ethics for archivists have been issued by:Association of Canadian ArchivistsSociety of American ArchivistsInternational Council on ArchivesMany other associations and institutions have their own codes
  • Archivists appraise, select, acquire, preserve, and make available for use archival records, ensuring their intellectual integrity and promoting responsible physical custodianship of these records, for the benefit of present users and future generations
  • Archivists have a responsibility to ensure that they and their colleagues are able to perform these and other professional activities in an environment free of discrimination and sexual or personal harassment
  • Your employer has issued a new code of conduct that calls teaching and public speaking a “high risk” activity You are expected to abide by the code or risk disciplinary action or job lossYou are encouraged to report employees that violate the code
  • Social justice refers to the principles of equality and solidarity, the value of human rights and dignityTerm has Jesuit originsTook on more secular meaning in 20th centuryArchivists are increasingly discussing the role archives can play in achieving social justiceIt is not always clear how social justice is being defined or which aspects of social justice are being referred to (e.g., human rights, income redistribution, etc.)Verne Harris has argued that the most important calling for archivists is the “call of justice,” rather than the call of truth, memory, or accountability“Since the elite use ‘the archive’ as an instrument of power, it is a moral imperative to counter such control and the abuses it can create.”
  • “If public libraries are to develop and grow in the future and become relevant to the majority of their local communities, then they need to abandon outmoded concepts of 'excellence' and fully grasp the 'equity' agenda.”
  • Howard Zinn has argued that focusing on our “tiny piece of linkage in the social machine” leaves “no time or energy to worry about whether the machine is designed for war or peace, for social need or individual profits, to help us or poison us.”
  • Approaches to achieving social justice through archival recordsInvestigate the aspects of records that are not being described and the voices that are not being heard (Acquisition/Documentation Strategy)Truth Commissions that are established to overcome secrecy and expose past social injusticesAdvocate for the need for accountability and documentation and their importance to preserving human rights and dignityPromote existing archival collections that document social justices and social injusticesResearch guidesOutreach activities
  • Howard Zinn has argued that focusing on our “tiny piece of linkage in the social machine” leaves “no time or energy to worry about whether the machine is designed for war or peace, for social need or individual profits, to help us or poison us.”
  • Howard Zinn has argued that focusing on our “tiny piece of linkage in the social machine” leaves “no time or energy to worry about whether the machine is designed for war or peace, for social need or individual profits, to help us or poison us.”
  • Your archives holds an important collection of ethnographic sound recordings with restrictions imposed by the donor The community featured in the collection wants to access the recordingsThe donor claims the restrictions were imposed to protect the privacy and intellectual rights of their informantsThe recordings are on unstable media
  • The public’s right to know is a perennial debateTechnological advances are enabling governments to be more open and transparent than everSome information is still privileged or confidential
  • The debate about how open a government should be is driven by Type of informationPoliticsActivism (lobbying)Not surprisingly, most of the public lobbying is for opening the government, not defending its right to secrecy, and it is coming from citizen’s groups and journalists Groups like the Sunlight Foundation and Open the Government are actively lobbyingThe Sunlight Foundation is really a group to watchThey are well organized, well funded, and have an excellent grasp on where the web is goingThis Open Government logo is part of a campaign their running called Public Equals OnlineJournalists routinely file access to information requestsAnd new forms of journalism are emerging, like WikiLeaksYou see a lot more of this organized activism in the U.S. than you do in CanadaBut there is some The Campaign for Open Government is a coalition in British Columbia advocating for improvements to their freedom of information legislationThe Canadian Association of Journalists routinely advocates for or against legislation involving freedom of speech and access to information There is definitely lobbying in support of government secrecy, it is just not as publicIn the U.S., certain government information is exempt from the Freedom of Information ActWhen the government passed a financial reform bill last year, it granted the Securities and Exchange Commission new exemptions from FOIABasically, the exemption allowed the SEC to promise “confidentiality to brokerage firms and other third parties whose competitive information, such as client records, it wants to collect in the course of keeping an eye on securities transactions via its examination office.”The exemption was pretty stunning, especially since that bill was designed to make the financial system more accountableIt almost assuredly made its way into the bill as some kind of concession that came from the intense lobbying of Congress that happened when the bill was being draftedIt has since been overturned
  • Fortunately, there are some efforts outside of government to make use of this data and even help the government structure and disseminate the information more effectivelyNewspapers like the Guardian are copying the data onto their servers and providing different kinds of search and access toolsThe World Wide Web Consortium and other groups are continually improving and developing standards for online dissemination of informationQuestion: How many of you have heard of the Semantic Web? Do you know what it means?The semantic web refers to the “web of data” thatis structured in a way that allows machines to understand the semantics, or meaning of information on the internetIt involves extending the network of hyperlinked web pages with machine-readable metadataWe’ll talk about this a little more next week, but the work groups like the World Wide Web Consortium are doing is having a major impact on the dissemination of all kinds of information, including government informationIn the private sector, there are businesses popping up that either provide support for government data and information management or take the vast information being published online and do something with itBrightscope takes various feeds of free, government data and mines it to rate 401k plansSocrata is a company that provides “turnkey open data solutions for government”InfoChimpsis really a data vendor, they have a site where you can find, sell, and share data and they have some subscription-based APIs And finally, GovPulseis a website that takes data from the Federal Register and adds all sorts of tools to allow the public to actually interact with the government
  • Given all the new technological tools at everyone’s disposal, many governments’ response to demands for more transparency have involved a deluge of informationData.gov is a portal to massive amounts of U.S. government data setsIt is an overwhelming amount of information that we are really left to assume is accurate and un-doctoredFor example, this screenshot is highlighting one of their data sets: Farmers Market Geographic DataIt contains longitude, latitude, state, address, name, and zip code of farmers markets in the U.S.That’s great, it could be really useful informationBut what is the government doing with it? Why was it collected? How was it collected? How does it steer policy? When you open the data set, you see that it’s a voluntary self-survey of farmers market managersBut you would probably need to file a freedom of information request to find out how the survey steered policyYou can also find this information on the US Department of Agriculture’s website, where they have a farmers market database with even more informationSo the deluge of information also brings questions about information management, dissemination, and government efficiencyPortals to government data are popping up all over the web nowThe British government has Data.gov.ukThere is the UN Data BankAnd finally, Canada has jumped on board with an open government initiativeI just love the ridiculous images the Harper government chose for their Red Tape Reduction CommissionThey’re a bunch of people rejoicing and throwing their papers everywhere
  • We’ll have to see where Canada’s Open Government Initiative goes, but as it was recently announced, it consists of three separate initiatives:Open Data – Access to government dataOpen Information – Proactive release of government informationOpen Dialogue – Expanding public engagement with social mediaThere is no question that governments are releasing more information than they have in the past, but the tactics of this “preemptive” approach, and the continued resistance to open records legislation raise questions about how open and transparent governments actually are
  • Some of these websites that are popping up are really impressiveHere’s a diagram of the technology behind the OpenGovernment.org websiteYou can see that it’s interacting with a variety of other websitesTwitterBit.lyDisqus, a comments websiteWikipediaGoogle NewsIt’s also linking to various updated data sets using APIsSo the Sunlight Foundation has developed some of theseThe government has developed some of theseAnd other organizations have developed some of theseAnd it’s adding geographic data to create district information
  • And this is what you getAn interactive page with all the information you could ever need to form an opinion about a particular bill There is information about votes, committee actions, news coverage, twitter feeds, sponsors of the bill, etc.One important thing to point out is that a lot of this development isn’t using “official government information.” Some of the government feeds aren’t “official publications.”Much progress has been made Access to information requests continue to be deniedThe government’s right to privacy continues to be arguedArchivists are very much in the middle…
  • These citations are provided for informational and reference purposes only. Please do not use these citations as examples for formatting your own citations. Refer to style guides.

INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Week Twelve: Ethics INFO 6800 (Winter 2013) Week Twelve: Ethics Presentation Transcript

  • INFO 6800 - Archives• Announcements• Archival values and ethics• Seminar presentationshttp://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-01-06/March 25, 2013 Week Twelve 1
  • EthicsGreene “Defining ourselves in terms other(2008) than what we do each morning speaks to our ultimate ability to What is an communicate our value to resource allocators, to find a archivist? suitable and sustainable place for ourselves in this information age, and to define and assert our power as a profession.”March 25, 2013 Week Twelve 2
  • Mark Greene’s Archival Values• Professionalism • Service• Collectivity • Use and Access• Activism • History• Selection• Preservation• DemocracyMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 3
  • EthicsMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 4
  • EthicsMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 5
  • EthicsMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 6
  • Jenkinson’s Moral DefenseMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 7
  • Ethical Questions• Does access trump privacy?• Does preservation trump access?• Should an archive impose access restrictions beyond what it is legally required to impose?• Should archivists be politically neutral or politically active?March 25, 2013 Week Twelve 9
  • Ethics Scenario #1• You acquire and sign a deed of gift for some records from a donor who has requested restrictions on a particular series• Upon examination of the records you see that some of the closed records reveal evidence of a crimeMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 10
  • Ethics Scenario #2• You process a collection of archival materials and find a small set of early 20th century postcards• The postcards are potentially valuable but they do not fit with the materials or the collection mandate of your archivesMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 11
  • Ethics Scenario #3• You are working on a dissertation on labour history and also work at a busy archives with extensive labour holdings• Another employee makes a find that would significantly enhance your thesis, but you know other researchers will also be interestedMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 12
  • Ethics Scenario #4• You work in a government archives and hear from a friend in another department that a director has been deleting emails relating to the development of a controversial new policy• You don’t know if it is trueMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 13
  • Ethics Scenario #5• You work in a small church archives and hear from a researcher about a large collection of papers of a well- known playwright that are about to be destroyed• The records do not fit your church archives’ collection mandateMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 14
  • Ethics Scenario #6• Your archives association has signed a contract with a hotel• After the contract is signed, a labour dispute arises between the hotel and the local hospitality workers union• The hotel will proceed with replacement workers but the union is calling for a boycottMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 15
  • Ethics Scenario #7• A recent donor has requested a tax receipt for a significant donation• You bring in two NAAB certified appraises who determine a fair market value of the collection• The donor is unsatisfied with the result of the appraisalMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 16
  • Codes of Ethics• Codes of Ethics for archivists have been issued by:• Many other associations and institutions have their own codesMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 17
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Principles• Archivists appraise, select, acquire, preserve, and make available for use archival records, ensuring their intellectual integrity and promoting responsible physical custodianship of these records, for the benefit of present users and future generationsMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Principles• Archivists have a responsibility to ensure that they and their colleagues are able to perform these and other professional activities in an environment free of discrimination and sexual or personal harassmentMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Principles• Archivists encourage and promote the greatest possible use of the records in their care, giving due attention to personal privacy and confidentiality, and the preservation of recordsMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Principles• Archivists carry out their duties according to accepted archival principles and practices, to the best of their abilities, making every effort to promote and maintain the highest possible standards of conductMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Principles• Archivists contribute to the advancement of archival studies by developing personal knowledge and skills, and by sharing this information and experience with members of archival and related professionsMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Principles• Archivists use their specialized knowledge and experience for the benefit of society as a wholeMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Appraisal, Selection, and Acquisition • A1 - Archivists appraise, select, and acquire records in accordance with their institutions mandates and resources. These activities should be guided by consideration for the integrity of the fonds.Redefiningprovenance March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Appraisal, Selection, and Acquisition • A3 - Archivists, in determining acquisition, take into full consideration such factors as authority to transfer, donate or sell; financial arrangements, implications, and benefits; plans for processing; copyright, and conditions of access. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Appraisal, Selection, and Acquisition • A3 - Archivists discourage unreasonable restrictions on access or use… Archivists observe all agreements made at the time of transfer or acquisition. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Preservation • B1 - Archivists endeavour to protect the intellectual and physical integrity of the records in their care. Archivists document all actions which may alter the record. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Preservation • B2 - Archivists who find it necessary to deaccession archival records should make every effort to contact the donors or their representatives, and inform them of the decision. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Preservation • B2 - Archivists endeavour to offer the records to other repositories in preference to destruction. Archivists document all decisions and actions taken with regard to deaccessioning. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Availability and Use • C1 - Archivists arrange and describe all records in their custody in order to facilitate the fullest possible access to and use of their records. Redefining provenance March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Availability and Use • C2 - Archivists make every attempt possible to respect the privacy of the individuals who created or are the subjects of records, especially those who had no voice in the disposition of the records. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Availability and Use • C2 - Archivists should not reveal or profit from information gained through work with restricted records. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Availability and Use • C5 - Archivists protect each users right to privacy with respect to information sought or received, and records consulted. Archivists may inform users of parallel research by others only with the prior agreement of the individuals concerned. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Professional Conduct • D1 - Archivists who use their institutions records for personal research and/or publication must make these activities known to both their employers and to others using the same records. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Professional Conduct • D1 - Archivists, when undertaking personal research, must not use their knowledge of other researchers findings without first notifying those researchers about the use intended by the Archivist. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Advancement of Knowledge • E1 - Archivists share their knowledge and experience with other archivists for their mutual professional development. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • ACA Code of Ethics: Application of Principles • Advancement of Knowledge • E2 - Archivists share their specialized knowledge and experience with legislators and other policy-makers to assist them in formulating policies and making decisions in matters affecting the record-keeping environment. March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • Ethics Scenario #8• Your employer has issued a new code of conduct that calls teaching and public speaking a “high risk” activity• You are expected to abide by the code or risk disciplinary action or job loss• You are encouraged to report employees that violate the codeMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 38
  • Archives and Social Justice• Social justice refers to the principles of equality and solidarity, the value of human rights and dignity• “Since the elite use ‘the archive’ as an instrument of power, it is a moral imperative to counter such control and the abuses it can create.” – Verne HarrisMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • Archives and Social JusticePateman and “If public libraries are toVincent (2010) develop and grow in the future and become relevant to the majority of their local communities, then they need to abandon outmoded concepts of excellence and fully grasp the equityMarch 26, 2012 agenda.” Week Twelve - Ethics
  • Archives and Social Justice Zinn (1977) Focusing on our “tiny piece of linkage in the social machine” leaves “no time or energy to worry about whether the machine is designed for war or peace, for social need or individual profits, to help us or poison us.”March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics
  • Archives and Social Justice•Investigate undocumented aspects of How can archivists society•Truth Commissions•Advocate for accountability and support social documentation•Promote collections that document social justice? justices and injustices•Research guides•Outreach activitiesMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 42
  • Archives and Social Justice Landeau and “Engaging in repatriation andFargion (2012) outreach work, sound archives quotingSeeger (1999) (and ethnomusicologists) might be understood as being ‘part of important social processes, and not simply appendages of academic programs, research institutions, or national repositories’” EthnographicMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics archives
  • Archives and Social Justice Landeau and “…a decision not to repatriateFargion (2012) carries as heavy an ethical load as a quoting Lancefield decision to do so. To do nothing is, (1998) after all, to do something—and with field recordings, it can be to fail to see that while they are indeed analytical specimens, some also are tangible precipitates of once- evanescent sounds still close to peoples hearts.” EthnographicMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Ethics archives
  • Ethics Scenario #9• Your archives holds an important collection of ethnographic sound recordings with restrictions imposed by the donor• The community featured in the collection wants to access the recordings• The donor claims the restrictions were imposed to protect the privacy and intellectual rights of their informants• The recordings are on unstable mediaMarch 25, 2013 Week Twelve 45
  • Transparency and Open GovernmentGovernment: Open or closed?March 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Transparency and Open Government• The public’s right to know is a perennial debate• Technological advances are enabling governments to be more open and transparent than ever• Some information is still privileged or confidentialMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Transparency and Open GovernmentMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Transparency and Open GovernmentMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Transparency and Open GovernmentMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Transparency and Open Government• Canada’s Open Government Initiative • Open Data – Access to government data • Open Information – Proactive release of government information • Open Dialogue – Expanding public engagement with social mediaMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Transparency and Open GovernmentMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Transparency and Open Government PrivacyMarch 26, 2012 Week Twelve - Open Government
  • Sources (in order of appearance)Adams, Scott (1995). Dilbert comic. http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-01- 06/.Ethic-ize advertisement. http://thefearandloathingpage.blogspot.ca/2011/05/inside-television- ethics-and-network.html.Handshake image. http://ethisphere.com/ivory-tower-public-trust-in- business-and-government%E2%80%94a-new-way-forward/.Public trust image. http://www.publictrust.co.nz/.Archives standards image. http://informationscienceantelope.tumblr.com/page/2Calvin and Hobbs cartoon. http://pactiss.org/2008/08/19/calvin-hobbes- ethics/.Knowledge image. http://knowledge1.net/contactus.htm.Pateman and Vincent (2010). http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&calcTitle=1&title_id=8 755&edition_id=9020.March 25, 2013 Week Twelve 54