Convergence & Keeping The Information Profession Alive

Nick Inglis

The Information Profession has been experiencing a convergence - empowered by technology, disciplines have been moving closer towards one another and, eventually, some titles will be (and are being) deprecated as job duties converge.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen -

Records Clerks used to fetch files and documents from file and Record rooms to provide them to employees when they were needed. They would likewise return those files and documents when the usage was completed.

Technology minimized those roles and relegated the “Records Clerk” to a job title of that of a lesser Records Manager - basically the same job functions but hierarchically lower in the org chart (if the company has the role at all any longer). Files and documents, no longer needing retrieval as digitized systems have taken that role.

It has taken a while but the pace of technological advancement will be relegating many more roles to the dustbin of history - to be set aside with the Microfilm Technicians, Stenographers, and Records Clerks.

I believe that eventually- the entire profession may be at risk of convergence with those on the data side of the _information profession_. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing - but in order for our knowledge to be retained and the individuals to have a place in this new future - I believe it is necessary to have a unified body of knowledge that begins to include data alongside information.

It’s no secret that the data side of the converging ‘information profession’ is viewed as significantly more mature than the content/Records side of the information profession. Everything from our legacy Associations’ murkiness and failure to connect with one another to the murkiness of our past models on the content and Records side of things compares poorly to the rigidity and clear instruction that accompanies most jobs with “data” in their titles.

While much of this is a function of data’s inherent structure- databases are easier to have clear instruction and guided steps to manage than a shared drive full of DOCs, PPTs, and XLS files -

it bodes poorly for the viability of those of us on the content and Records side when convergence comes.

Executives will view those on the data side of the information profession as more competent, more successful, and more viable to retain their jobs than those on the content and Records side. The consequences of this could be disastrous if it played out today.

This is why the Information Coalition has been working so hard on the InfoBOK, or Information Body of Knowledge - an open source and unified body of knowledge that is expansive and extensible. If content and Records professionals are to remain viable as we move into the era of the pure information professional (embracing both content and data) - we must have a broader set of skills and knowledge. That's what we're working to create at InfoBOK.com.

While convergence may be a decade away or maybe more - it is coming and it is inevitable. We should plan and be prepared.

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Nick Inglis

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