Posts Tagged ‘archivists’

A quick post in support of my lonely hearts ads for this year’s UKAD Forum.  I’ve submitted two – slightly concerned this makes me look rather archivally-geekily dissolute… Anyway, these were inspired by a chance conversation on twitter a few weeks back with a couple of archivists who had signed up in January for the Code Year lessons, but had found it hard going and fallen behind.

So firstly:

  • Digital professional, likes history, cake, structure & logic, hates dust, WLTM archivists interested in learning programming, for fun and comradeship.
I’ve posted here previously that I have occasionally mulled over the possibility/feasibility of some kind of online basic programming tutorial for archivists, and this even gathered a very welcome offer of assistance.  But I hadn’t taken the idea any further for a couple of reasons (a) I wasn’t sure of demand and (b) I think its really important that any tutorial should be based around real, practical archival scenarios.  I know from experience that it can be difficult to learn tech stuff (well, perhaps any stuff) if you can’t see how you might apply it in personally relevant contexts.  So, if you’re an archivist, what I’d like to find out in the comments to this post is why you’re interested in learning how to program – specifically in which archives-related tasks you hope such skills could usefully be applied.
And secondly:
  • Tech-loving archivist seeks passionate, patient devs with GSOH to help teach archivists to code.
Because I know I couldn’t put together what I have in mind on my own, and because I’d be embarrassed to show any of my code to anyone.  Those two things are linked actually: on a good day, with a following wind, and plenty of coffee and swearing, I can cobble together some lines of code which do something useful (for my purposes).  I am all too aware I am using perhaps 5-10% of the power of any given language, but then again if it works (eventually, usually!) for my purposes, perhaps 5% is all the function I require (plus the confidence to explore and experiment).  I need any real programmers interesting in helping out to understand all of that.  The aim here would be to put together a simple tutorial for beginners based around day-to-day archival tasks.  From programmers, I’d be interested in ideas of how to put together this tutorial, including what language(s) you might recommend and why.

I have absolutely no clue whether or how this might come off.  Maybe the only UK archivists interested are the three of us who talked on twitter.  Maybe we’ll decide its too much effort to tailor a resource specifically for archivists (and I do have the small matter of a PhD thesis to write over the next few months).  Maybe we’ll find there’s already something out there that’s perfect.  Maybe the consensus will be that archivists’ time would be better spent brushing up their markup skills, or learning about database design, or practising palaeography or something.  I just don’t know, but UKAD is all about networking and getting people together from different fields but with common interests in archives.  Or, as one archivist tweeted: “Wanted to be able to have halfway-sensible conversation with techies” – now there’s a challenge!

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