Tornados and Technicolor: Swirling thoughts and the continuum

By Heather Soyka

University of Pittsburgh

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25 March, 2015. Monash University

In grappling with the literature of continuum thinking, past and present, often I feel as though I have just started to traverse a winding and extremely interesting path of possibilities. Perhaps Dorothy (another American!) felt this way as she also followed her own twisting and complicated yellow brick road towards Oz. In a sense, continuum thinking—and continuum thinkers—are the quintessential tornado of swirling possibilities and ideas that have brought me to a conceptual place of transformative thinking about records, about communities, about possibilities.

In this discussion, I will introduce a case study, which examines a records-intensive closed online forum for active duty US Army officers during a specific stage of their career, who have come together for the purposes of professional peer-based learning. The community members contribute to a layered, multi-creator record that forms the basis for conversation, learning, and the unofficial transfer of knowledge about their profession. Some knowledge and conversations within this community are also shared (pluralized) to other, wider audiences. After situating the case study, I will talk about how I have used the records continuum model to understand the case, and in turn, how the case informs my reading of the continuum.

My background and American positionality informs my understanding(s) of continuum thinking. Based on the case study above, I will outline several possibilities that I see for future exploration. From there, I hope that we will be able to converse about collaborative possibilities that bring together different contexts, different multiplicities, and new questions that extend the reach and powerful possibilities of the continuum


Heather Soyka is a doctoral candidate and teaching fellow in archival studies at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Library and Information Sciences. Her research interests include recordkeeping behavior, documentation of war and conflict, knowledge transfer, and community recordkeeping. She holds a master's degree from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College with a concentration in archives and records management.