• The Archivist and the Geek

    Date: 21.01.2012 | Category: Archives, Digital Preservation | Tags: ,

    I’m a geek. I have been since I was 7 playing Buggy Boy incessantly the family Atari ST 1040. Anything to do with computers, the internet and gadgetry in general and I’m all over it.

    I’m also an Archivist (not an activist or even an anarchist…an Archivist), meaning that I spend my working day cataloguing historical documents, repacking books covered in red rot in acid free paper, answering historical enquiries relating to collections, and anything else that I can find to do with myself.

    I’ve always been interested in history and the idea that documents from the distant past can be preserved for future generations and, after my work experience at 16 when I was taken to a strongroom and shown an anglo-saxon house deed (wow!), I began to realise this was something I could do for a living.

    You would be forgiven for thinking that these two elements of my personality must be entirely independent, after all, how many Latin reading computer programmers do you come across? (Perhaps a little extreme but you get my point!) However, I am increasingly discovering that a lot of what I do in my spare time on a computer has come in very useful in my job as an archivist, and have developed a specific interest in digital preservation (ensuring that digital documents/video/sound files remain accessible for future generations).

    The humble document, the basis of an archivist’s role, no longer means a piece of paper in a folder on a desktop. Indeed, even a ‘folder on a desktop’ has a different meaning in a digital context. The way we create material is changing, and the role of an archivist has to change with it. Job specifications increasingly require ‘good IT skills’, including the occasional ‘familiarity with XML/EAD/METS (plus any number of additional obscure acronyms) and I for one think it could and should be easier for archivists to access simple information of the management and preservation of digital records.

    The aim of this blog then, is to chart my interest in digital preservation, and provide some notes, personal thoughts and links to interesting or otherwise relevant information.

    Current ideas of future posts include open source software, computer science basics for archivists, simple, practical digital preservation solutions and the changing role of the archivist.

    Thanks for reading – new posts should be landing soon!