One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the food. But equally yummy is the company that comes with the holiday. Last weekend, I spent Thursday with family, and some of their friends, and some of their family. It was an excellent celebration with a houseful of warm and inviting people, many of whom I met for the first time.
Invariably, when you meet new people, you get the, “what do you do?” question. I also get the “what exactly is that?” follow-up question. Over a year ago, I wrote a post talking about how I explain my job and digital preservation.
For the most part, I still stick to the 30 second speech. I’ll also point out any relevant current events, which I find helps articulate the immediate need for the preservation of digital materials. For example, I mentioned the serious damage Eyebeam Institute’s digital archives sustained during Hurricane Sandy.
But I try not to focus every conversation on stories of loss. I like to tie-in topical posts on this blog that talk about preserving unique digital collections. It helps me frame deeper conversations for particular audiences or interests. In my experience, highlighting the discussions and interviews around digital stewardship stories of culture and history elicit more “oh, now I get it” moments. Here are a few of those types of posts that stick out in my mind:
- Insights Interview with Beverly Emmons, Lighting Design Preservation Innovator: Barbara Taranto, Digital Program Director at New York Public Library, interviewed lighting designer Beverly Emmons. It’s a fascinating discussion about lighting design documentation and preservation, an interesting and unique collection most people don’t know about.
- It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like… Election Archiving Season!: Over a year ago, Abbie Grotke talked about Library of Congress plans to archive 2012 presidential campaign websites and House and Senate campaign sites.
- The Born Digital in the Archives: One Curator’s Experience: Sue Manus interviewed a Library of Congress Music Division specialist about the Jonathan Larson collection. Larson composed and wrote the musical RENT. Many of his early drafts existed only on floppy disks and obsolete software programs.
- Preserving Business History: Abbey Potter highlights the value of saving business records, which are another type of unique content thought of as historical collections.
For the practitioners out there, how do you describe your work or explain digital preservation to new friends? Feel free to share your stories and those conversations here.