From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
> Is "deaccesioning" used here as a synonym for "destruction" or
> "abandoning with probable eventual destruction?"...or just
> "removing from circulation?"
> Steven C. Barr
All the discussion in the archive philosophy group that has sprung up really
deals with information and the discarding of information. And that is a much
more fundamental question than what our list usually handles.
Every object that we handle possesses information, some of it coming from our
handling leaving traces on it. Some of the information is deliberately
discarded, and some of it is retrieved because we go looking for it. One
instance of discarding is just throwing it out in our dustbin. However, in a
criminal inquiry, forensic experts will sift through our refuse in order to
obtain information to fit into a pattern. This does obviously not mean that
all our refuse should be deposited somewhere so that it may answer questions
of an arbitrary nature later.
As our analytical tools become better, there is more and more that we can fit
into patterns and use to answer questions, but we cannot make the pace of
development of analytical tools keep up with the information we discard.
Some objects should really be retained for analysis. For instance, if all
garages in all of Scandinavia had retained, in the period subsequent to the
disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, the intake filters that they
exchanged in the total fleet of cars running in Scandinavia, they could have
sent them to a central authority with precise information about the cars they
were removed from and their whereabouts. This authority could then have
analysed the radioactivity and perhaps the individual particles from these
filters, which would have enabled the drawing of maps of the distribution of
radioactive particles in the air. This way we would have had a much better
grasp of the pollution, and perhaps we could have predicted better when it
was again safe to eat Norwegian caribou. Instead the authorities raised the
limit of danger, so that the meat miraculously became quite healthy again.
Now, this is just one example of information that we do not bother to retain
and analyse, and the phenomenon is so common that it approaches "human
nature". Information will be lost and only fragments left for the future to
Obviously this shall not preclude anybody from collecting time-capsules; it
is only a question of who pays in the end.