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A perfect match? Connecting partners in the labyrinth of information (full text)

Full text of my essay published in Frans Smit, Arnoud Glaudemans and Rienk Jonker (eds.), Archives in liquid times, Stichting Archiefpublicaties, 's Gravenhage, 2017.

A perfect match? Connecting partners in the labyrinth of information 1

Rienk Jonker


In this essay I will give some insight into the results of my quest as an archivist2 to understand the fundamentals of information. It is not only about trying to understand the complexity, but mostly to grasp or grock this phenomenon. With the verb grock one indicates that he or she is to understand completely and thoroughly an object, subject or issue (Heinlein, 1961). At one point I was surprised to notice that the common perception of complexity of information and information management overshadows the relative simplicity of the outcome of the grocking.

As an archivist in Leeuwarden I am on an almost regular basis confronted with born digital information. I have to answer questions related to (functional) requirements and tenders for digital systems, change management, information architecture, system management, process development and management, migrations, and conversions. The answers have to be simple, preferably fitting on one page (e.g. as a checklist), because those who are asking are not interested in long considerations, reports and notes. Often there is not much time and quick decisions have to be made. It makes my job interesting, because old and new theories clash sometimes.

A couple of years ago I became

Mededeling (Achtung)

Mededeling uit 1978 (?) opgesteld door medewerkers van Foto Objectief gevestigd aan de Gelkingestraat in Groningen bedoeld om klanten duidelijk te maken dat ze moesten kijken met de ogen, niet met de handen en eventueel het personeel om advies konden vragen. 

Sir Thomas Bodley's Chest

The safe keeping of money and valuables posed obvious problems in the days before banks and strongrooms. It was common during the Middle Ages to use a really heavy metal chest, difficult for thieves to carry off unnoticed/ and to fasten it with several locks, the various keys being held by different officials so no one key-holder could gain access.


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