Suggested terminology for quaternary dating methods

Because societies were enabled to extend themselves further across space and time through writing, and subsequently through the recording of sounds and images, than through the oral record, the "technology of preserved communication" has allowed for the development of a more variegated cultural repertoire.In so doing, it has created a world so complex that no individual can possibly master it all.This is true in the first place because archives and museums are in no position to acquire a complete record of our culture (though libraries might, in the aggregate, acquire a nearly complete set of the published record of our society).But it is true for a more basic reason as well: all ordering, all conceptual schemes, all means by which man comes to name his reality, are, reflections of culture.Archives, historical societies, libraries and museums are the institutions created by our society to play the role of selecting, conserving, and providing access to the record of our culture.To an extent far greater than the society admits, these professional keepers of cultural evidence are not simply custodians of our recorded past, but shapers of the cultural memory.In the oral culture of non-literate societies, in the myths and fables refined by centuries of retelling, we are delighted to discover a source of fundamental truths, of the themes which make us essentially human.This record of apocryphal events, reflecting historical facts but not bound utterly by them, is a distillation of a once living testimony.

It is deposited at different rates by different groups within the society and at different times in the life of the culture (reflecting the socio-economic and cultural-political requirements of the society).The first four essays address the four fundamental activities involved in the management of the physical record: selecting an appropriate record from the great volume of evidence, preserving that record against time, describing the record that has been retained, and providing for access and use.Of each of these activities I ask whether our present methods are adequate and if not, how they can be adjusted within the practical limitations which cultural repositories face.Chapter five explores an idea relevant to the changes in methodology proposed in the first four chapters.Intelligent artifices are presented as a tool for expanding intellectual control, and consequently, access and use.

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