By Michael J. Cook (Auth.)
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Extra resources for Archives and the Computer
More normally, input data are prepared by translating them into an electronic or machine-readable form. There are two kinds of input devices which will do this, the off-line equipment which writes the data onto a medium which can be run through a reading machine and on-line equipment which writes directly into the computer's memory. The former are now rapidly becoming obsolescent, but may still be a viable proposition in some circumstances. The media used are punched cards, punched paper tape, or some form of magnetic tape.
However, this condition does not always apply, and in any case there is a good reason for systematizing data on a special input form bearing a note of all the input formalities. Computers are particularly sensitive to incorrect input data (this is one of the meanings of the famous saying, 'garbage in, garbage out'), and what is saved by short cuts in the preliminary arrangement of the data to be prepared may well be lost in error reports or in data incorrectly input. Usually two data input forms will be needed: a complex form for inputting new archival descriptions, and a simpler form for inputting updating information (amendments and deletions).
Users therefore require a minimal knowledge about high-level languages, because it is important that their systems should be designed to use one which in the circumstances is the most appropriate. Like all man-designed systems, computer languages have specific aptitudes: each one is good at some things and not so good at others; so that the choice of language, or of a software system which uses a language, is likely to be important. However, it is not necessary to be a computer expert, a scientist or a mathematician to understand the composition, terms and powers of a computer language, or even to learn to write programs in one.
Archives and the Computer by Michael J. Cook (Auth.)