Future Proof 100th blog post! The past, present and future of Future Proof June 7, 2012


This is the 100th post on the Future Proof blog! In this post we thought we’d use the opportunity to give you a quick history of Future Proof, an overview of the slight changes we have made to it to coincide with our 100th post, an insight into what the blog analytics reveal about the last 4 years of Future Proof, where we would like the blog to go in the future, and a big round of thank yous!

Quick history of Future Proof

Future Proof’s first post was way back in July 2008. Our first ever post, New IAMS contract can save you money, was short, sharp and straight to the point and discussed the Information Asset Management Systems panel contract developed for NSW government in 2008.

In its early days, the blog was mainly used to post monthly bulletins on digital recordkeeping issues. These supplemented the more extensive records management guidance published on State Records’ website.

However, as digital recordkeeping challenges increased across government, State Records recognised that its clients wanted faster, timely digital recordkeeping advice in short, digestible grabs rather than lengthy advice or publications that take time to develop.  As a result Future Proof has evolved into State Records’ preferred mechanism for providing current digital recordkeeping advice to and initiating discussion with our NSW public sector colleagues dealing with the challenges of digital recordkeeping.

Since 2008 we have written over 50 000 words on Future Proof, about a range of digital recordkeeping issues and we now have a dedicated following.  More than 85 000 of you have downloaded our posts, we have hundreds of RSS subscribers and we receive warm, positive feedback that encourages us to keep posting. We are really grateful for the interest shown in our posts and updates and the dialogue they generate. Thanks!

The Future Proof refresh

In honour of Future Proof’s 100th post, we have given the site a slight refresh. The main driver for this is that Future Proof now has an awful lot of useful content in its posts. Up until now, other than the search field, there has been no easy way to access this older content. To improve this we have updated the categories on the blog to better reflect the content of the posts available on Future Proof.

The categories are now: Business systems and recordkeeping, Cloud computing, Digital archives and digital continuity, Digital disposal, Digitisation, EDRMS, ICT and recordkeeping, Metadata, Risk and recordkeeping, SharePoint and recordkeeping, Social media, State Records snippets, Surveys, What we learned at. So now, for instance, if you click on the category ‘Cloud computing’ you will get a list of all our posts on cloud computing, on ‘Digitisation’, all our posts about digitisation etc.

In addition, we have updated the tags associated with each post, which should improve the relevance of the ‘Also of interest’ links that are automatically presented at the end of each post.

The review also led us to update the content in the blog’s About, Resources and Digital Archive pages.

  • About now tells you more about State Records Future Proof strategy and the Future Proof blog.
  • Resources helps provide a bridge between the blog and the State Records website. It lists the current ‘hot’ digital recordkeeping issues and provides links to resources on both the blog and the website that address these issues. It also explains what type of content will be found on the blog and what will be found on the State Records website.
  • Digital Archive gives an update on all the work State Records is doing to develop and build a digital archiving solution for the whole of the NSW government.

As always, we would love your feedback on the changes that we have made. Please tell us what you think works and doesn’t work, provide your thoughts on the refresh and what you do and don’t like about the blog.

What do the Future Proof analytics tell us?

One of the great things about a blog is that you can get valuable data about its use. While we don’t get many comments on the blog itself, we know that a lot of you read our Future Proof posts. The use statistics show that there is an ever-growing audience keen to engage with the type of issues we discuss on Future Proof. Here are some other conclusions we can draw from our stats and analytics. (Note that some of these conclusions have more of a scientific basis than others!)

Recordkeeping fundamentals still matter

Looking at the list of the most popular search engine search terms of all time that have led people to Future Proof, searches relating to electronic document and records management systems are by far the most popular. In fact 10 out of the 20 most popular search terms all relate to electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS) in some way. Therefore for all the different digital recordkeeping challenges that have emerged in the last 4 years, the need to get the basic fundamentals right through an EDRMS implementation has continued to be a key driver for the audience that finds its way to Future Proof.

People are interested in a very wide range of digital recordkeeping challenges

In order, the top 20 blog posts in the last four years are:

This top 20 show that emerging recordkeeping issues such as digital continuity, social media storage, and SharePoint are popular, but long standing issues such as digitisation and EDRMS design and implementation have enduring popularity and people still require support when dealing with these challenges.

This is a useful reminder that, while new issues and technologies do generate a whole host of fresh risks and challenges for digital recordkeeping, existing challenges do not simply go away. To address existing challenges, State Records issued new guidance on digitisation and EDRMS selection and implementation.

Please tell us where else you think additional support may be required.

Digital recordkeeping challenges are universal

Since 2008, nearly 60% of those using Future Proof have come from Australia. And 60% of that 60% are from State Records’ NSW jurisdiction, so we believe this shows that we are posting information that is of use and relevance to our NSW public sector colleagues and that is helping them to manage their digital recordkeeping challenges.

We have also found that Future Proof has broader appeal, with users from all around the world logging in. Hello to our readers in Argentina, Suriname, Indonesia, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Thailand, Philippines, the US, UK, Canada, and many, many others. Thanks for reading! It’s great to be part of a global community that is starting to work together to solve some of the significant challenges threatening the future useability and management of digital information.

A multichannel approach to communication pays dividends

The statistics show us that users come across our site in a range of different ways.

  • The majority are referred through the State Records website. This is great and shows that the majority of our users are likely to have a good awareness of State Records’ requirements from the website and then come to Future Proof seeking more specific advice or discussion on digital recordkeeping issues.
  • Lots of visitors are referred by our absolutely fantastic sister blog, Archives Outside. Thanks guys!
  • Increasing numbers of users are coming through social media channels. Twitter is directing a very large proportion of visitors to us, and significant numbers are also coming through Facebook.
  • Search engine traffic, reported on above, also drives a very large number of visitors. Over the years visitors have also come via many other referrers who have commented on a specific post or issue.

We think this shows that it pays to make your information as freely and as widely available as you can, as it all contributes to widening and improving the debate on digital recordkeeping issues.

People love sitting on trains learning about records management

This is the only conclusion that can explain the ridiculous popularity of Future Proof’s podcast series. This page goes off. Thousands of people visit this page and check out the 20+ available podcasts. Good work everybody! We hope the conversations help your trips go faster!

It pays to use a good photograph

Every single day for a year now, several people, probably children doing a school project, do a Google search for ‘pirate ship’ and every day those lucky kids are directed to Janet’s excellent post on the 2010 Records and Information Professionals Australasia Conference. (The conference dinner had a pirate theme and Janet used a picture of a pirate ship to illustrate her post). This shows the unexpected power of photographs in a blog post. In this instance the kids get a great photo of a pirate ship together with insight into current trends in recordkeeping theory and professional development. Janet could be inspiring a whole new generation of recordkeepers. We will have to wait and see!

What is the future for Future Proof?

Future Proof will continue to be a major communication channel for State Records. We want to keep discussing a whole host of current digital recordkeeping issues through the blog. A new initiative we are trialling is to do a monthly post summarising all the digital recordkeeping enquiries we respond to in the Digi Team each month. We are also working on more detailed recordkeeping advice on metadata, social media, digitisation and a range of other issues which we will continue to circulate and discuss these via the blog. And we really want FP to be useful, to be serving the community and addressing the digital recordkeeping issues that need to be addressed. So please let us know what information would help you to combat the digital recordkeeping challenges in your organisation. We’ll see what we can do!

And finally, thanks!

A big thank you to those who started up the Future Proof blog, Cassie Findlay, Katharine Stuart and Anthea Brown. Great work guys!! And thank you also to those who have kept it going and contributed content, including Janet Knight, Kate Cumming, Richard Lehane, Paul Elliott, and Emma Harris. And finally, thank you! We have a great time working on the Future Proof blog. We learn so much about digital recordkeeping through the blog and through the engagement that it generates. So thank you very much for taking the time to read, to comment, to email, to challenge, to ask and to engage. Please, please keep it up!

Anthea June 8th, 2012

Congratulations! You have achieved a great deal over the last four years. Looking forward to another 100 posts!

Katharine June 8th, 2012

Woot! Keep up the excellent work. Love the snappy, new refresh!

Kate Cumming June 20th, 2012

Thanks Katharine! And thanks for all your fantastic work on the blog over the years!

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