By Itza A. Carbajal

The ever changing nature of today’s information age presents both new and continued challenges for many of society’s most pressing issues. These issues—intertwined with the various technological innovations and proliferation of unified communication systems— obscure questions of identity, memory, accountability, and justice.

The Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) conference held in Prato, Italy each year grapples with these same intersections between technology and communities from a diversity of perspectives. This year’s conference in particular focused on addressing the grand archival challenges of this century through a focus on policy and research initiatives.

This year’s CIRN conference, organized by Monash University, encouraged papers and presentations that assessed the use of information and communication technologies (also known as ICTs) in order to improve the well-being of people and communities. Additionally, this year the CIRN conference hosted a one-day workshop titled “Towards A Network For Human Rights In And To Records In The Information Age” organized by Joanne Evans, Sue McKemmish, Greg Rolan, and Anne Gilliland. Workshop participants included representatives from fields such as archival studies, civic hackers, policy analysts, records managers, as well as survivors of abusive care systems.

Participants and workshop organizers from around the globe contemplated various aspects of creating a common human rights policy framework and advancing research initiatives around pertinent issues. One proposed strategy included the creation of a Human Rights Network composed of many contributors with an emphasis on access to records and the development of a recordkeeping rights model.

Additional workshop discussions and exercises focused on identifying commonalities between potential Network members, outlining necessary recordkeeping rights platform principles, and proposing potential research topics. This convergence of perspectives, experiences, expertise, and cultural viewpoints was the first step in collectively working towards a common platform of recordkeeping rights to counteract unjust systems and ongoing humanitarian needs.

In addition to the one-day workshop, CIRN conference presentations touched on a variety of related human rights topics. Presenters discussed issues such as empowering women farmers through the use of ICTs, critical reflections on application software for families of murdered and disappeared Indigenous women, and how to handle children’s records of now adult care leavers in Australia. 

Luckily for those unable to visit the beautiful Tuscan hills in 2018, the CIRN conference occurs every year. For those interested in learning more and potentially getting involved with the Network for Human Rights in and to Records in the Information Age, a workshop communique will soon be distributed.

Itza A. Carbajal is a Latin American Metadata Librarian for the University of Texas at Austin.

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