For the most part, my relationships are drama and stress free. Except with technology. Surprise, surprise yes archivists use modern technology. Contrary to the teasing I received from a friend recently, we don’t sit at typewriters all day. I’ve actually learned more about technology, computers, and computer programs in my 7 months of school than in my whole life, especially the last few weeks at my internship.
So, back to the drama. Technological advances have done wonderful things for archives and preservation. The internet allows us to put our resources out in the world and reach people who otherwise never would have known we existed. It makes storing information easy, organized, and take up almost no physical space. Most of the time, it’s pretty great. Most of the time.
One cool thing technology enables me to do is show you this great handbook on SAA’s website <——the link is over in the sidebar. It’s an introduction to archives. Check it out!
The past two days have been a sort of technological battleground for me. Silly tiny errors that have made my day seem never-ending and make me want to either hit my head against the wall or hit the bottle. Maybe both. The first issue was yesterday. We use a platform called ContentDM which allows us to upload collections to the library webpage and have the metadata available alongside the images. We really only do this for our photography collections. To make the upload process work, first an Excel spreadsheet is created, making sure the column headings exactly match the headings that the program uses. Then, the spreadsheet is saved as a Text file, reformatted a little, and then can be uploaded. Or so say the minimal instructions. Everything was going great until I got an error message saying my file did not exist. Even though I was looking right at it. After struggling and trying different things for awhile, my boss came and helped me and we battled the program together. The solution was really stupid, actually. Apparently I had told the program to look for .jpeg files when they were .jpg files. *Head against wall*
Today I had a similar problem when trying to upload a new finding aid to our consortium website. One simple line of code was telling the website to look in a place that didn’t exist.
I just have to remind myself of all the great things technology can do for archives and history, take a deep breath, and eat a cookie. Not in the processing room, of course. Even though I may sometimes wish these complex computer programs weren’t around, the alternative doesn’t really seem pleasant either. As archivists, we have to learn as much as we can and be on the cutting edge of technology. Knowing what will come next so we can be prepared to preserve it. It’s quite exciting actually. It’s all that keeps me from hitting my head against the wall sometimes.