How important to the archivist is an increased understanding of communications technology and its impact on society as it applies to the media of record? There is a growing awareness of the need to "read" the often obscure meanings in nontextual media. In addition, there is a need to understand how various technologies impinge on communication in such a way as to change bureaucratic process and the meaning of the act or decision entered in the record, which may look the same but ceases to have the same authority, especially as the age of the computer is already evincing certain characteristics analogous to preliterate society. The relationship of physical or oral acts to their record is discussed and, thereafter, the impact of writing and print on bureaucratic and administrative textual material. There is good evidence that not only is a knowledge of form and phraseology important in the study of modern diplomatics, but also the technology which has its own cultural impact on the user, including the archivist. The archivist has to assess this as part of the appraisal process and in order to assist the user in the interpretation of meaning over and above that of content and context. The article's approach is discursive in an attempt to put a general light on the subject and is not intended to be a piece of original research.

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