Archivy etc.

opinions, occasional rants, and sometimes things that have nothing to do with archives at all. Nothing here should be assumed to be reflective of my employer's opinion(s) nor should it be assumed that at anytime afterward, this is what I still think.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The opening salvo

Why another blog on archivy? You might be asking yourself.

This time, I'm happy to point the finger of blame at a colleague. This is Gina Rappaport's fault. Gina, for those of you who don't know her, is a very bad influence on me. And probably a lot of other people.

Here's the story. Early in 2011 a contract faculty member in my school's history department was put in charge of organizing a regional (aka Alaska) Phi Alpha Theta (history honors society) conference. He decided that the attendees would need a break from history papers at lunch, but still wanted to keep them around, and thought it might be nice to present them with a panel of people with history degrees but who were employed in allied fields: i.e. NOT academic historians and yet still able to use their history degree to get paid regularly. Somebody pointed out to him that my masters degree was technically a history degree, and so the invitation was extended to me.

I have a bit of a soft spot for things Phi Alpha Theta and so I agreed. And I sat down to write a 10 minute presentation about who I am and what I do. And what I found was that before I could write something I felt comfortable in presenting, I first needed to get some stuff out of the way. I had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head that maybe weren't the best things to say: snarky, irrelevant, esoteric, irrelevant... And so I wrote a piece entitled "What this archivist does" and shared it as a note via Facebook with some of my colleagues. I'll admit, a little bit of it was in hopes that I could rescue some of the text in my presentation, but those fond wishes went the way they always do.

And in steps Ms. Rappaport. Who asks me to post it on my blog because she wanted to share it with some other people and knows very well my FB account is about as locked down as I can possibly take it. I was flattered though perhaps I shouldn't have been, and asked her if I could think about it. At this point, I had 3 blogs, in essence. The first was my departmental blog and though I get occasionally opinionated on it, I try to treat that space as less about me and more about the department. So that was out. The second was a recipe blog for my sister's occasionally strange but compelling recipes. So that was out. The third was my blog I did last year about how to survive and thrive in a job search. I had always intended that to be a one shot deal: a chronology-based blog on what I was seeing (or rather, wasn't seeing) as I was engaging in archival recruitments. So that was always intended to be a time-limited blog on that very specific subject. So that was out.

But I did have some concerns about opening up another blog. Like: do you really want to set a schedule for yourself in writing? I've never been so good about meeting regular deadlines for written work (and that job search blog almost killed me there: I achieved that one only because I'd drafted over half the postings before I took even the first one live).  But then I thought about some of my other favorite blogs and realized: who's asking for scheduled postings? And though I have fun sometimes sharing my rants with a few colleagues, sharing them with a wider world isn't always so appealing. A little scary in fact. But nobody said I had to post everything to a blog: if I'm worried about something, I can always take it to my FB notes and pretend I control who sees it.

That's when Gina's request went from flattering to outright dangerous. And when I decided I could do this. Just don't expect regular entries and be prepared for occasional nuttiness. As I write this now, I'm actually home sick from work today. Occasional temperature spikes, massive headache, the works. On top of a lack of sleep. That may be when I write entries and so, hey, no promises to always be clear, lucid, rational. Even worse, I may change my mind--do complete 180s--from post to post. I keep telling myself that's a good sign that I'm educable and flexible, but that may be the illness talking. We'll see. Welcome, and by the way, feel free to provide feedback. I might not agree with you, but who said we all had to agree?

And next up: yes, Gina, I'll post "What this archivist does" here. Though I spotted a couple of typos in it a couple of weeks ago, so I want to fix those first. And maybe edit a few things.

Oh, I may regret this. But what's life without a few regrets?

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