Archives and the Computer by Michael J. Cook (Auth.)

By Michael J. Cook (Auth.)

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Is then run through the reading equipment, which will reject any item that does not tally with its counterpart. These can then be examined manually and the necessary amendments made. Double keying is an efficient but expensive method, and obviously doubles the initial typing costs. A small archives office probably would prefer to rely on visual proof-reading by its own 44 Computer systems staff. In this approach, input data are keyed only once and read into the computer. The system will reject items which do not conform to the program format, but otherwise will read in possibly erroneous data.

It is difficult to set up a computer system; but, once it has been set up and proved, a computer can exercise its power to arrange and organize data in ways which would have been impossible manually. 'Computers are automatic; and in a sense one may say that their systems are self-directing. It remains true that human judgement and direction are essential, for computers can only follow strictly logical and literal instructions. These instructions, however, can include patterns which allow the computer to carry out some functions unsupervised and spontaneously.

Small hardware like this is not likely to contain enough memory store to be directly useful in an archival context, since archival systems usually need storage for a considerable quantity of data. But a mini-computer can be used as a means of access to a larger computer, allowing specialized uses, or a greater range of facilities for input and output. A relatively recent development in packages and systems is the Data base Management Systems ( D M S ) . Although they are at the moment not widely available and are complex, these systems must be of interest to archivists, as they are essentially concerned with the manipulation of a data base.

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