Record Access

Jul 03 2014, 01:55 IST
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SummaryIndia must emulate the US’s archives body sharing all its holdings with Wikipedia

Here is something that the US has done which is worth emulating for India. As per the US’s 1014 Open Government Plan, all holdings of the country’s National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) would be uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, the database of media files that powers the content on Wikipedia. How does this help? While Wikipedia is often used for the fastest desktop research, the fact that it is open-source means that any one can edit an article and shape “information” as per his/her whims. Thus, what gives the information a semblance of credibility is references. This is where NARA’s holdings have a big role to play. Not only do these become sources of new information, linked as references these would bolster the quality of information available. So, if just 4,000 articles on the site that featured NARA records got 1 billion hits in 2013 alone, imagine how much would the US record-keeper’s entire stash impact the quality of information being consumed.

This backdrop should be reason enough for India’s official non-current data repository, the National Archives of India (NAI), to join in. NAI is a veritable treasure trove of history—material including official records, manuscripts, private papers of eminent persons in history are archived in a regular series from 1748 onwards with the body. If the government were to digitise this content and put it online with Wikimedia Commons, public access to the information would vastly increase—something worth considering.

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