Data Entry Query

Peter Rauch peterr at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU
Thu Jan 9 11:27:16 CST 2003

On Thu, 9 Jan 2003, Roger Hyam wrote:
> 5) "Rapid Data Entry" is a falacy. There are 4 variables in
> any project (not just IT): Quality; Time; Scope; and
> Resources.

"Scope" might be subdivided to recognize "Timing" (when is the
most economical [or practical, or whatever other criteria] to
create digital collection data?), and "Structure " (what
structural elements of the collections process lend themselves
to more effective digital conversion of data?). Timing and
Structure interplay, of course, as structure takes different
forms over the course of time. The specifics of timing and
structural opportunities vary according to the particular
discipline (botany, entomology, etc), but the general principle
of using timing and collection structure (and process) to
optimize/prioritize digitization of collections data is a
valuable one to analyze for and apply.

> * Time is a useful variable - we can always extend the project
> another year.

And, that's why it's now nearly 40 years later, and many
institutional collections are still using "time" to "extend"
their entry into the digital data world. :>)  Indeed, Time is
their most useful variable.

> * Scope (i.e. what the project does). In reality this is the
> main management tool.

> So if you want data in your database quickly ...or narrow the
> scope (the only thing you can control).

I believe this "narrowing the scope" is what several of the
earlier contributors have been suggesting, e.g., with respect to
"prospective" and "retrospective" Timing.

> How much can you narrow the scope till the database becomes
> useless? That is probably the goal of your "Rapid Data Entry
> Assessment Project".

I'd be interested in the criteria that will be used to evaluate
the "Assessment". Cost, obviously, will be one criterion, but
"cost of what?". What actually will this Rapid Data Entry (RDE)
produce? What will be the unit cost? How much should a unit of
RDE cost? What is the value of a unit RDE?

If RDE is simply a way of taking advantage of timing, of the
normal dynamic structural features of collections operations, of
opportunistic events (funding sources emerge [or dry up],
mainly; periodic volunteer labor materializes,
staff/faculty/institutional interest sets into place
periodically, etc), then RDE would not be a "fallacy" but simply
a suggestion that Data Entry can be done 'rapidly' (i.e., more
efficiently, economically) based on some intelligent planning.
There are probably 10000 ways to poorly design/operate an RDE
process for every one way of doing it well.

If, on the other hand, RDE means "do it now", and define "it" to
mean anything that can be done _now_, then the concept of RDE
may be somewhat frail. Which brings me back to the question of
what are the criteria for how to assess the success of an RDE


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