“Dodging the Memory Hole” & When Networking Pays Off

Hello again friends! I can’t believe that we are a day away from the fall semester starting up again at SJSU. I am excited to start the new semester and learn about cybersecurity, and dive a bit deeper into coding by learning PHP and MySQL. I hope the summer has treated you well these past few months, and I hope you have some great classes to attend this semester.

The last time we met I spoke about the importances of networking both physically and in the digital world and in a little bit I’m going to talk about some of the successes I’ve had in the last few weeks with job applications and building relationships with people that may not have a position available for me right now, but will definitely think of me if one becomes available in the future.

But before I get into that I wanted to share some of the knowledge I gained by attending a webinar last week called, “Dodging the Memory Hole”. The webinar gave a brief history of born-digital news preservation in the U.S. and was presented by Edward McCain and Katherine Skinner. What I found to be so fascinating about this webinar was the fact that a lot of our digital content (I’m talking years worth of news, articles, alerts, etc.) isn’t really as safe as we think it is. Much of this content is hosted up online until the original poster removes the content, or something unfortunate happens like the server maintaining the content crashes and loses all the data.

McCain stated in the webinar that most places use content management systems (CMS) to both store and retrieve content, which isn’t what they were really designed to do. So if something happens to that CMS there is the possibility that some or all data stored in that CMS could be irretrievably  lost. Have you ever used Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine? Did it ever take you to a page created sometime in the past but much of the interactive content (links, images, embedded videos) no longer exists or doesn’t work right? This is the kind of stuff I’m talking about here. As soon as I post this blog, the URL I have is created to lead you to it. If, for example, I were to go back and modify the URL, if you have the old URL it won’t be able to take you to the new address because the system doesn’t know it. Same applies for any content I might embed or link to in this blog. If the original content moves location and I don’t back track and fix it, you’ll be met with missing information or broken links.

Globally every 6 months take the total of what the New York Times has published this past century and double it and that is how much content has been lost global every 6 months.

-Edward McCain, Dodging the Memory Hole Webinar, August 17th, 2016

This webinar definitely gave me a lot of information to think about over the last few weeks, and I don’t really know what the solution would be. The biggest issue I can see us having is a lack of backwards compatibility with old information and new information. Just like if I neglect to keep my operating system up to date on my computer, eventually my computer will start speaking some ancient dialect that a new computer or software won’t be able to understand. All I know is that for those of us who want to preserve all of this digital content for future generations have their work cut out for them.

If you’re interested in learning more about DTMH I recommend you look at RJI’s website and see if you can make it out to their conference later this year, I believe if you’re a student (MLIS, Journalism, etc.) they may even have some scholarships to help you make it out to the conference and join the conversation.

In other news, I wanted to catch you up on my job searching endeavors. I still haven’t been able to find a full time position so I can fully move out of retail, but I did manage to get a part time position at a university library. I’m really excited to start, and I was also quite pleased with how well I thought I did during my interview. I haven’t had an interview for a new position that wasn’t part of the company I already worked for in almost 6 years, so it felt great when I went into the interview and aced it.

As for interviewing, I would say the best advice to have is to have some questions already prepared for whomever will be interviewing you and to just try and relax. I have a tendency to speak really fast and use filler words like, “umm….” when I get nervous. So the biggest thing I could recommend would be to take a deep breath and go slow. If you think you’re speaking too slowly you’re probably going at just the right speed.

In addition to that amazing news, I also found that even though I was declined for a full time position at my local library, the Assistant Director there was really impressed when I sent a thank you email back and asked for feedback about what I might be able to do or improve upon to help me secure a library position in the future. Just the fact that I sent an email and asked for some feedback went a long way and was able to get me a meeting with the Assistant Director and the Head of Circulation to meet with them and chat about different positions or ways I might be able to help out at the local library in the future.

I even got a sneak peek at their makerspace called the “Collaboratory”, which will be opening in just a few weeks in September. I am really excited to see that place in action, they have a little bit of everything, laser cutters, 3D printers, mini greenhouses, a film studio, a music recording area, tons of stuff. Even though during our meeting we decided that between my full time job and this new part time job and school I really wouldn’t have much extra time to help out at the library with an actual paid position, we did talk about volunteering I might be able to do when the library is hosting big events, especially in the Collaboratory, since I am pretty familiar with a lot of the different creative software they might be using on the Macs there.

All in all, I thought it was a great meeting and really the best way to network since now we can all put faces to names, and hopefully in the future if my schedule frees up and they have some open positions I can apply and maybe get a position there. So if you take away just one thing from this blog just remember, a thank you goes a really long way.

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